North Murray High School’s Manuel Gonzalez and Coahulla Creek’s Missael Fraire are two of Region 5-3A’s best goalies, so it was not a big surprise that Monday night’s matchup between the two schools came down to penalty kicks.
Considering North Murray’s track record when pushed into such a situation, the outcome wasn’t unexpected either.
The Mountaineers converted all of their penalty kicks and won via shootout for the third time this season, outscoring the Colts 5-3 in penalty kicks to remain on top of the region standings. Both teams were scoreless in regulation play and overtime.
“We have really been talking about playing a complete, 80-minute game, and we needed just a little bit more tonight,” North Murray coach Matt Chambers said. “That was a real challenge tonight against a very good team and a great keeper. That was two really good keepers out there and both teams played well defensively for the entire game.”
North Murray improved to 10-2 overall and 10-0 in region play, while Coahulla Creek fell to 9-4-1 and 7-3.
The Mountaineers went first when the match went to penalty kicks, with Dylan Duffy converting first for North Murray by going right past Fraire. Jo-An Barcenas evened the score for the Colts by hitting the left corner.
North Murray’s Antonio Maldonaldo ricocheted a shot off the left post and into the net, while Irwin Rivera countered for Coahulla Creek to make it 2-2.
Alexis Solorzano then pushed his shot low and to the left to convert his attempt and put the Mountaineers up by one before Coahulla Creek’s Sad-oth Fraire banged a shot off the left post that didn’t go in.
Both Freddie Urbina for North Murray and Coahulla Creek’s Luis Lee-Martinez scored in the fourth round, but when Ismael Cruz went to the upper right corner with North Murray’s fifth score, the Mountaineers remained undefeated in region play.
“We knew this would be a good game and it turned out to be all we ex-pected,” Coahulla Creek coach Eric Parker said. “We came out soft in the first half, and that was sort of what I expected coming off of spring break. We got a little better in the second, but you can’t let a team that good have a chance at the end. Their keeper is too good, and they convert when they get the chance.”
The teams played uniquely different halves, with North Murray controlling the first 40 minutes and Coahulla Creek making its push more through the first 20 minutes of the second half. But neither team generated many scoring opportunities, instead falling back on their defenses and looking to take advantage of mistakes rather than force the offensive pace.
“The real key in the first half was the play of our center midfielders in keeping the ball in front of them and pushing it forward,” Chambers said. “This game, the defense was definitely there throughout the game.”
It was there for both teams. North Murray had just 10 shots on goal, with Fraire making four saves. Coahulla Creek put 16 balls on goal, with Gonzalez also finishing with four saves.
While both keepers were outstanding, Fraire had the more spectacular saves. In the 27th minute, Cruz had a breakaway and put his left foot into the shot from point-blank range, but Fraire was able to get the deflection and the ball clanged off the crossbar.
Even though neither team found the net during regulation and overtime, Chambers was confident going into the deciding kicks.
“We have a little experience in it, and they have done a great job of finishing all year long when given a penalty kick opportunity,” he said.
The teams will meet again on April 19 in Varnell.
“I hope this one hurts our guys just a little bit,” Parker said. “We played a very physical game as we knew it would be and came up short at the end. I hope it stings a little.”
• Coahulla Creek girls 4, North Murray 0: The Lady Colts got a pair of goals in the first half and two more in the second as Melissa Cabrerra recorded the shutout in goal.
Joanna Montoya and Melanie Pace-cho scored for Coahulla Creek (3-9-2, 2-7) in the first half, while Harley Jack-son and Hannah Grant scored the second-half goals against the Lady Mount-aineers (1-9, 1-9).
• Northwest Whitfield JV boys 4, Calhoun 1: Juan Navarro scored twice and assisted on another goal as the Bruins (8-1) rolled on the road.
Edward Infante and David Paz each added a goal, while brothers Ivan and Luis Velazquez each had an assist.
Rigo Martinez made four saves in goal for Northwest, which has given up just three goals this season.
• Christian Heritage 10, White-field Academy 5: The Lions scored nine runs in the top of the seventh and stopped the Wolfpack’s rally in the bottom half of the inning to win a makeup game in Mableton.
Christian Heritage (9-7), which trailed 2-0 after one inning, scored its first run in the sixth before getting the rest in the seventh. Whitefield Academy scored three runs in the seventh before reliever Spencer Robbins closed out the win for the Lions.
Robbins came on in relief of starter Michael McKinney after he gave up back-to-back doubles to start the seventh. McKinney picked up the win after allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits while striking out six.
Brady Souther went 4-for-4 with a pair of RBIs to lead Christian Heri-tage’s offensive attack, while Chase Tidwell was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, Jake Stokes was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Tre Mason had a two-run double.
“We had put it in play all day, we just kind of hit it at them,” Christian Heritage coach Noah Stokes said. “But it was good to finally break through.”
• Christian Heritage boys 5, Excel Christian 0: The Lions picked up their first Sub-region 6A-A victory of the season in their final chance, improving to 3-4 overall and 1-4 in the league with their win in Cartersville.
Christian Heritage got singles wins from No. 1 Phillip McClure, 7-5, 7-5, No. 2 Evan Townsend, 3-6, 6-3, 10-6, and No. 3 Devin Sanders, 6-2, 6-1, plus doubles wins from No. 1 Brian Pierce and Samuel Pippin, 6-0, 6-2, and No. 2 Austin Lowe and Harrison Kranzlein, 1-6, 6-4, 10-7.
• Excel Christian girls 4, Christian Heritage 1: Sarah Pippin’s 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 3 singles was the lone victory for the visiting Lady Lions (3-4, 1-4 Sub-region 6A-A) as they lost their final league match of the regular season. Christian Heritage will take on a to-be-determined opponent Monday in a play-in match to earn a spot in the Region 6-A tournament, which starts next Tuesday at Darlington.
• North Murray did not report results from Monday’s scheduled boys and girls matches with Sonoraville by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Results from two scheduled boys and girls matches involving local schools — Coahulla Creek versus North Murray at Indian Trace in Chatsworth and Murray County versus Model at Callier Springs Country Club in Rome — were not reported by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.