Delaware Military Academy goalkeeper Chad Balback considered the foot shape and knee angle of his opponent as he faced the 12th shot of a shootout to decide the winner of the DIAA Boys Soccer State Tournament Division II quarterfinal on Saturday afternoon at Bob Peoples Stadium at Caravel Academy.
The shot looked like it was coming in high, Balback decided, so he leaped up to meet it.
One ticked crossbar later, the 11th-seeded Seahawks were celebrating a shootout victory over No. 3 St. Georges to advance to Delaware Military Academy’s first-ever soccer tournament semifinal.
“It’s all how the foot is shaped and where the knee is over the ball,” Balback said after the win. “That’s all you go for. You guess and hope you’re right.”
After the two teams ended regulation and two overtime periods tied 1-1, and two rounds of a shootout also finished in deadlocks, the game came down to a sudden-death, miss-and-go-home shootout round.
Danny Rhoades started the final shootout with a shot high into the corner of the net.
“I just dropped it back and made my run so I can get the ball and hopefully score,” Rhoades said of his shootout final goal.
St. Georges goalkeeper Robin Jamieson nudged the next goal past Balback’s outstretched left hand to keep it even.
Alexander Adamson went low and scored for DMA before St. Georges’ next shot banged off the crossbar.
After the win, DMA senior captain Wyatt Jennings could only describe the game as “nerve-wracking.”
“The guys really put out a lot of effort pushing through at the end,” Jennings said. “We came into this game looking at they had two strong players we were specifically looking for. We shut them down early on.”
For most of the game, it looked like Danny Rhoades’ goal in the 35th minute on assists from Jennings and Mike Rutz would be enough for the victory as the Seahawks’ defense thwarted any effort by St. Georges (10-5-1) to score.
“Hats off to my defense,” said DMA coach Wayne Cox. “They played well. They kept us in the game.”
But St. Georges came out after halftime and kept pushing down the field, eventually tying the game when Ky-Air Hamilton’s shot deflected off a Delaware Military Academy player in the 66th minute and into the goal.
“The second half, we came out and played really well,” Hawks coach Justin Null said. “We generated so many scoring opportunities. We’re just that close on so many occasions and it just didn’t happen for us today. That’s the funny thing about soccer, you create so many chances and you dominate play and sometimes it doesn’t go your way.”
For Delaware Military, which upset No. 6 Tower Hill in the first round, it was another chance to make their mark on soccer in Delaware. The Seahawks will face either No. 2 Indian River or No. 10 Mount Pleasant in Wednesday’s semifinal.
“No matter who it is, Indian River or Mount Pleasant, we’re very confident we can take them on,” Jennings said. “We kind of shocked the state already, beating St. Georges, the No. 3 seed. We look forward to this game eagerly.”