CORINTH – After going 100 minutes between regulation and overtime without a goal on Thursday, the Coppell boys soccer team made up for lost time during its penalty kick shootout in the Class 6A bi-district playoffs.
The Cowboys converted all four of their penalty kicks and senior goalkeeper Austin Simigian denied Denton Guyer twice to help Coppell hang on for a 4-3 shootout victory.
“We picked our five, had it organized and ready to go from the start. I talked to those players individually yesterday and asked if we get to it if they’re confident enough to take it,” said James Balcom, Coppell head coach. “Every one of them looked me into the eyes and said, ‘Yes,’ and every one of them stepped up today.”
Seniors Jeremy Basso, Blake Bartlett, Dail Kang and Johnny Koponen all out-gunned Guyer goalkeeper Jacob Headrick for shootout goals, although Guyer initially matched Coppell step for step after scores from Roushdy Jimenez and Jaron Petreas on its first two tries
It was the Wildcats’ third penalty kick where the Cowboys at last gained their first measure of separation all night when Simigian dove right to turn away a low shot by Guyer’s Anthony Jimenez.
“It’s tough for a keeper to have to stay focused for 100 minutes when there are long spells where he was inactive and didn’t have to do much,” Balcom said. “To turn it on in random moments, [Simigian] came up big a couple times throughout the game. We had him last year too, and we have all the confidence in him.”
Guyer’s Cole Schroeder followed with a goal and Utah Mansell sent a shot high and over crossbar, ushering the Cowboys onto the pitch to celebrate the playoff win.
“Obviously, you don’t want [the shootout] right from the start, but now we can build off this and take some confidence away from it,” Balcom said. “We feel like everything was right there for us the whole game but we just couldn’t find it. To take it to a shootout and come up big says a lot.”
The Cowboys didn’t lack for opportunities during the 100 preceding minutes of scoreless soccer. Coppell owned a 9-4 advantage in shots on goal and generated 11 corner kicks to the Wildcats’ two, but Headrick and Co. didn’t budge.
Defensively, the Cowboys limited Guyer to only two shots on target during regulation – attempts that came nearly 60 minutes apart, as Coppell ramped up the pressure and possession late in the first half.
“The chances were there. Our six losses this year haven’t been by much, but we’ve had those opportunities over and over and a team counters on us and scores,” Balcom said. “For them to shut that off their minds and keep pressing, and we probably caught a lucky break or two sending numbers forward, but’s that’s our mentality – we’re always going to go for it. It was getting a little frustrating as coaches, but our goal is to continue to keep it positive and give them that confidence.”
Bound for the second round for the seventh consecutive year, Coppell will meet either Grand Prairie or Skyline next week at a time and place to be determined.