Recently in practice, Reservoir senior center midfieldler Conor Hassett asked coach Paul Linkins if he could get a shot in goal despite never doing so before.
On Tuesday night against host River Hill in the Class 3A East Regional final, he got his wish. Linkins gave Hassett the nod to play keeper on the biggest stage, defending penalty kicks.
He stepped up big for the Gators, stopping a shot and nailing the winning kick to lift Reservoir to a 3-2 win in penalty kicks to claim the school’s first regional title.
“Once states started, we put [Hassett] in goal. We started practicing penalty kicks and he said coach, ‘give me a shot.’ So I said ‘alright.’” Links explained. “I knew going in that if we went to [kicks], he was going to be our keeper but I don’t know if he believed that I was going to put him in there.”
“I haven’t been in goal at all in the regular season, just practice,” said Hassett with a huge smile on his face. “I practice them. If you make a save or two, that’s all you can really expect. They missed two and I had one save, it feels good.”
Each team scored a second half goal and played to a 1-1 tie through two overtimes, setting up the penalty kicks.
Jake Coccio and Josh Campbell scored goals for the Gators while Tommy Krug and Domingos Arouca found the back of the net for the Hawks, setting up a 2-2 stalemate.
Michael Behrman, the fifth kicker for River Hill, missed his attempt, kicking the ball over the goal. Hassett, after making a diving save on Jack Noonan’s attempt in the second round, set up to take his shot and buried it past Hawks goalie Nick Voyton (five saves) for the win.
“When Jake [Coccio] was hitting the penalty kick, I saw [the goalie] leaning; he was leaving one side open and he dove that way,” said Hassett. “I usually go left but I knew that he was going to get left, so I right.”
The Gators improved its season record to 13-3-1 overall, avenging a 2-1 loss to River Hill in the regular season. The Hawks end their 2010 campaign with a 14-2-1 mark.
Voyton made a save on a penalty kick by Coccio with 33 minutes on clock to keep the game scoreless. Minutes later, after Tomi Williams was tripped in the box, Krug drilled the penalty kick past Reservoir keeper Michael Lombard (three saves), to give his team a 1-0 lead with 27:21 to play.
But the Gators responded quickly. Junior Peter Park played a cross that was deflected by a River Hill defender but the ball found senior Kevin Johnson’s foot and he slid the ball into the goal, tying the match with about 23 minutes left.
“We were working hard all game and we talk about never giving up,” Johnson. “I saw Peter get the ball and I thought, ‘I don’t want to give up.’ So I just kept going and a lucky bounce came right to me. I just wanted to hit it in.”
Neither team could separate itself in the two overtime sessions due to even play on both sides.
“I think the game was back-and-forth. It was a tough game,” said River Hill coach Matt Shagogue. “I think they outplayed us a lot in the first half but I thought toward the end of the first half, we played better. In overtime, we had the better of the chances but you aren’t going to win any [games] missing three penalty kicks.”
He added: “I wish [Reservoir] the best of luck. They deserved the win and they won. I hope they represent Howard County and the East Region in the states semis.”
Heading into the final two weeks of the Howard County regular season, Reservoir sat in a four-way tie for first place in the league. But a rough four-game stretch, including three losses and one tie, Linkins said his team was “searching for its identity.”
“I think we found it,” Linkins said. “It took that week of those losses for us to battle back from some adversity. We just kind of sat down and decided what was working and what wasn’t…We missed a penalty kick early and we bounces back whereas before, I don’t think that we would have.”
Reservoir moves on to the State semifinal round on Saturday when it will face Linganore, the 3A West champions, at the Community College of Baltimore County-Essex.
CLICK RELATED VIDEOS TAB AT TOP OF ARTICLE FOR GAME HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDING EACH PENALTY KICK.
|No. 9 Reservoir 1, No. 3 River Hill 1 (Res. wins 3-2 in pks)|
Res-Lombard 3; RH-Voyton 5.