After playing for 90 minutes to a 2-2 draw, Forsyth Central’s boys outlasted West Forsyth by winning 4-3 in penalty kicks on Thursday night.
After each team made their first three PK’s, Central’s Juan Gonzalez made two huge saves to give the Bulldogs (7-8, 304 in Region 5-7A) the victory. Gonzalez made six saves during regulation and overtime, but those two saves on penalty kicks are going to be the big ones that everyone remembers.
“I was just praying to God that I was going to do my best,” Gonzalez said. “What can I say, penalties are one of the hardest parts about being a goalkeeper, but I take responsibility. Tonight was a great game and we won.”
West (4-10, 1-8) got on the board less than three minutes into the game when Martin Mejia’s corner found Aiden Mienert, who headed it off the crossbar and in.
But Central tied it up with 9:30 remaining in the first half when Connor Crocco slipped a through ball passed the West defense and Gavin Mitchell buried it in the back of the net.
Early in the second half, West struck again. After a foul on the edge of the box set up a free kick for the Wolverines, Carlos Reyes shot it around the wall and into the right side of the goal, putting West up 2-1.
Then we had some controversy.
After intercepting a deflection from a West defender inside the box, Central’s Uriel Romero tucked it into the back of the net for the equalizer with just under 12 minutes remaining. The Wolverines’ side went crazy, begging for an offside call, but it wasn’t given, and the goal stood.
“My interpretation of the rule is that it was a deflection, which negates the offside call,” Gifford said. “But if I was in their position I would probably be arguing the same thing. But it awarded a goal, so it’s a goal.”
“They have a hard job,” West assistant coach Noah Souders said. “But at the end of the day we expect the ref to know the rules and be able to come out here and give us a fair game. We’re not blaming the loss on them, but it’s just frustrating when those kinds of things happen.”
With this win, the Bulldogs now have a 3-game lead on West for fourth place in the region.
“This win allows us to control our own destiny to make the state playoffs,” Gifford said. “That’s a big deal for us.”
Central and West’s girls in the second game of the night didn’t get that far. With the score tied at 0-0 and 10:23 remaining in the first half, the game was postponed due to lightning.