Mooresville outlasts Watauga in boys' soccer playoffs
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Winning a soccer game by penalty kicks can be an exciting experience. Losing one by the same method can be devastating.
In prep soccer, resorting to penalty kicks usually means that the game being played is in the state playoffs. That was the situation facing Watauga, who tied Mooresville 1-1 in regulation time, but lost 3-0 on penalty kicks following 30 minutes of scoreless overtime periods in the first round of the state 4-A playoffs.
Jonathan Quintero's penalty kick clinched the match for the Blue Devils, who got a goal from Quintero in the game's first four minutes, but went scoreless the rest of the game. Harris Gerwitz and Noah Privott also scored penalty kicks against the Pioneers.
Watauga missed on all three of its penalty kicks, but two of them were saved by Mooresville goalkeeper John Merrill. The senior goal keeper made two diving saves on kicks by Watauga's Logan Raichle and Cam Linville, and then caught a break when Jake Chasteen's shot hit the goal post after Merrill guessed wrong and dove the wrong way.
"Their keeper was fabulous tonight, especially by saving two penalty kicks," Pioneers coach Woody McKay said. "That is very tough to do and he saved them. They weren't bad penalty kicks."
Watauga trailed 1-0, but Raichle scored the tying goal with 16:47 left in the second half to bring the Pioneers to 1-1. McKay said once Raichle scored his goal, Mooresville had to stop its delay tactics and revert back to trying to score a game-winning goal.
That played into Watauga's hands. The Pioneers got several good shots on goal, but could not get another shot past Merrill.
"First, I'm glad we got back in the game," McKay said. "They were slowing down the game and after they scored, which is painful to watch from the sideline -- every kick, every throw-in, every delay tactic. Once we scored, it open up the game again and it looked like it should have."
Watauga's season ended with a 16-5-1 record, while Mooresville, which plays in the North Piedmont Conference, improved to 12-9-1. Mooresville won its second straight game and the five of its last seven games.
Chasteen also made some big saves, including a spectacular, diving effort in the first half that kept the Pioneers falling behind by two goals.
Watauga's offense kept constant pressure on the Blue Devils in the second half, but only got a few close chances at Merrill. Tucker Chasteen delivered a hard-drive to the goal, but Merrill saved it over the goal.
Raichle also collided with a Mooresville defender inside the 18-yard box late in the game, but a foul that Watauga's the official to call was not made. It would have set up a penalty kick.