There was no shortage of drama in the first round of the Floyd Central boys soccer sectional on Monday night.
In the opener, Jeffersonville outlasted Silver Creek by way of a 4-2 advantage in penalty kicks after the teams ended regulation and two seven-minute overtime periods scoreless. Jacob Clemons’ game-sealing strike clinched the win for the Red Devils (8-7-3).
Host Floyd Central (8-3-4) won in similar fashion to cap the night. The Highlanders managed a 3-0 penalty-kick win after New Albany senior Asher Wheat nabbed a game-tying goal with 1:27 remaining to force overtime and the eventual penalty-kick situation.
Jeffersonville and Floyd Central advance to Wednesday’s sectional semifinal round at 5 p.m. The winner of that game will take on the winner of Wednesday’s Charlestown-Corydon matchup in Saturday’s championship at 7 p.m. The Highlanders are gunning for their fourth consecutive sectional crown.
New Albany finished the year 8-7-1, while Silver Creek’s season ended at 13-2-2.
Floyd Central 2 (PK), New Albany 1: The Highlanders were quick to strike Monday night, as a third-minute goal from sophomore Riley Thompson, assisted by senior Ethan Worrall, gave the hosts an early lead.
Floyd Central handled possession and fired 28 shots, 18 of them on target, but couldn’t manage another score. And while the Highlanders played soundly all night, Wheat wasn’t about to lay down easy.
Playing in what turned out to be his last game with New Albany, the senior was in the right place at the right time with 1:27 remaining. After a failed free kick, a loose ball bounced his way. He gave it a touch and netted a game-tying goal from a difficult angle to force overtime.
With both teams still knotted at 1-1 after the overtime periods, Floyd Central turned to three of its seniors to keep the season alive. Evan Sakamaki, Landon Campbell and Worrall all converted penalty kicks while the Bulldogs came up empty on their first three, sealing the final.
“That’s not how we had it drawn up,” Floyd Central coach Tim Rice said. “But that’s why they play the games. Soccer’s a funny game. You can control possession like we did, and they get a counter. All of the sudden, you’re in a battle. Thankfully, we held our poise.”
New Albany graduates nine seniors off this year’s squad, including goalie Jacob Trulock, who had 17 saves for the Bulldogs in his final outing. The team does, however, return several juniors and underclassmen who contributed this season.
“We’re very proud of this team,” New Albany coach Josh Dickman said. “We come in here, everyone’s expecting us to fold or choke, or whatever you want to call it. There’s absolutely no quit in this team. And I think that’s evident in taking these guys to penalty kicks.
“We’re going to be good next year. … We had a lot of freshman get a lot of experience this year.”
Jeffersonville 1 (PK), Silver Creek 0: Juniors Ben Walter, Kurtis Kimmel and Ulises Palacios – who also played goalie for the Red Devils during penalty kicks – along with Clemons, a sophomore, netted penalty chances for the Red Devils, who posted 25 shots throughout the match. Of Jeffersonville’s attempts, 13 were on goal compared to eight shots overall for Silver Creek.
The win came after the Dragons topped Jeffersonville 3-1 on Sept. 27.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Jeffersonville coach Carson Webb said. “They put it to us the other night. I felt we played to our game plan. … I’m glad we pulled it out. Hats off to Silver Creek.”
The difference, according to Webb, was the Red Devils’ postseason mentality.
“You lose, you go home. … I wish we would’ve finished more, but in postseason play, a win’s a win and you move on,” Webb said.
The Dragons captured their first-ever conference title this season. Silver Creek graduates seven of its 21 players – all standouts.
“The seniors have had a lot of success over the past three, four years,” Silver Creek coach Colin Bell said. “They’ve really brought the program up quite a bit from where it was to where it is now. We’re going to miss them. They’re all heartbroken.”