ZIONSVILLE— Things couldn’t have gotten much more familiar for Carmel senior Matthew Skaar as he lined up to take a penalty kick during Saturday night’s overtime period.
Skaar had been in this same situation — or at least one eerily similar — three nights earlier when he scored on a PK to lift Carmel over Zionsville and advance to the sectional championship against Guerin Catholic.
Tied at 0-0, Carmel’s best shot at scoring all night was riding on him. In these types of situations, Carmel coach Shane Schmidt can’t even watch. He turns his back to the goal and relies on the reactions of his assistants and players to tell him the result.
But Saturday night, the crowd’s roars told Schmidt that Skaar had come through once again. Skaar netted the decisive goal in the upper right corner and helped supercharge the Greyhounds (11-2) on to a 2-0 overtime victory over the Golden Eagles (12-3) for the sectional crown at Zionsville.
“I said it last time, I really trust in our defense to hold us off,” Skaar said. “I knew I just had to do my job and put it in the back of the net. And I trust in my abilities, so I just cleared my head, stepped up and put it in the back of the net.”
Both sides waged a physical battle with Guerin getting a good shot on goal early in the first half, following it up with a few more before overtime. Several times senior goalkeeper Cooper Fetters made excellent blocks to keep Carmel out, including on three back-to-back corner kicks late in the second half that Carmel might have otherwise scored on.
In overtime, the rough play continued from both sides before culminating in a foul that set up Skaar’s penalty kick. Carmel senior forward Brenno Pecora was dribbling down near the right side of the Guerin goal when he said he felt someone tugging on his jersey, ending in a collision between him and Guerin player.
“I thought it was a very even, back-and-forth game,” Guerin Catholic coach John Cech said. “I didn’t think one team had an advantage over the other for the entire game. It just so happened that we get to an overtime situation and we give up a penalty kick. I can’t fault the officials, I’m 80 yards away from it.
“Giving up a penalty kick in the overtime just kills ya.”
Following Skaar’s goal, a noticeable momentum shift went in favor of the Greyhounds. A few minutes later, the Golden Eagles were called for another foul that set up a free kick several yards outside the box. The kick went up and over the heads of defenders, giving Carmel junior Riley Shives a perfect opening for a header that made it 2-0.
“I told them there’s 14 minutes left in your season and that’s it,” Schmidt said he told his players before overtime, which is played in two seven-minute periods. “At that point in time, fitness levels are at the bottom and it’s just who can dig deepest. It was crazy to be quite honest with you.”
Follow IndyStar reporter Jordan J. Wilson on Twitter: @Wilsonable07. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .