A year ago, the Bald Eagle Area boys’ soccer team lost in a shootout to Philipsburg-Osceola, and goalkeeper Ben Leskovansky was crushed.
With a year to prepare Leskovansky and his Eagle teammates got a different result the second time around.
Leskovansky made one save and saw the final shot trickle wide as BEA edged Richland 4-3 in a shootout after the teams played to a 1-1 draw through two overtimes in the District 6 Class AA quarterfinals at Alumni Stadium on Thursday night.
“The game played out exactly how our season has played out — everything has been tight, down to the wire, one-goal differential,” BEA coach Jason Bair said. “It basically came down to who was going to put the ball in the back of the net for the PK and I knew that.”
BEA will face Bellefonte on Tuesday at Central Mountain’s Don Malinak Stadium. The Red Raiders won both regular-season meetings.
Jared Maurer scored the Eagle goal in regulation while Jake Marsh netted the Rams’ goal.
Each scored during the shootout, and Brandon Gettig, Doug Rogers and Gage Smocer also scored for BEA (11-7-1), which set the program record for wins. Smocer’s turned out to be the game-winner.
Eric Henderson was stopped on the first Eagle attempt.
Ismail Ahmad and Tobi Nordlund also scored for the Rams, while Matt Summerson slid his attempt just wide on the final attempt of the game and Bobby Colvin was stuffed by Leskovansky on the first Richland try to give the senior keeper his dose of redemption.
“We just needed one,” Leskovansky said. “We’ve been practicing PKs — the kickers, couldn’t have done it without them. They’ve just been making every kick possible. I just needed to make one save to put it away.”
He was glad to get the second chance after what happened a year ago.
“I told myself right there, we’ve just got to work on PKs,” Leskovansky said. “You never know when it’s going to come down to it to decide the season.”
“We have worked his tail off in PKs,” Bair said. “He made one save — that’s all he needed to make. We have practiced and practiced our PKs in the postseason because I wasn’t going into what I did last year and lose again.”
After a quiet first half with few quality scoring chances for either side, the two goals in regulation were practically rapid fire on counter attacks.
Jeremy Patula slipped the ball between a pair of BEA defenders to Marsh, who blasted the ball just inside the far post, with keeper Ben Leskovansky having no shot at making the stop at 47:58.
Just 1:16 later the Eagles answered, with Maurer slicing through the Rams on a counter attack and chipping the ball over keeper Shawn Gindlesberger.
“That was a big confidence-boost for our team,” Maurer said. “We were really coming fire out of the gate after they scored. We were really determined to put one back at them.”
“If you hang your head right away and then you’re done, we would have been out of the game,” Bair said. “They pumped their heads right back up, we just continue to say, ‘You are not out of any game that you’re in.’ Thanks to our defeanse and our goalkeeper, we’re not out of any games.”
Maurer appeared to be racing to the go-ahead goal with just under 15 minutes left, ripping a shot that Gindlesberger made a sprawling save on, and Nathan Styles was ready for the rebound but put it into the side of the net.
It appeared Brandon Gettig had the game-winner with less than a minute left in the second overtime, bending a free kick around a wall of defenders toward the top corner of the net. Gindlesberger was able to get his fingers on the ball and parry it over the crossbar.
For the game, Richland carried play in the BEA end for most of the night, outshooting the Eagles 33-18. Leskovansky finished with five saves.
“He has just grown,” Bair said of his keeper. “I’ve only had him for two years. I wish I could have him for two more.”