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Soccer: West boys upend Denmark in PKs for first region win
Javier Morales celebrates his game-winning penalty kick after the Friday, March 12 West Forsyth victory over Denmark. - photo by Jacob Smith

In his post-game talk with his team, West Forsyth head coach Richard Ortega said to his team that their win in penalty kicks over Denmark was their ‘turning point’ in the season. 

“I think the boys have worked really really hard to be where they are right now,” Ortega said. “Every day is a challenge. We always remind them that there is no easy game, and tonight was a very difficult game. They showed not just a lot of intelligence, but a lot of heart and desire. They are changing the way the program is developing.”

With the game on the line, senior Javier Morales stepped up. He was the 10th player to shoot, with both teams tied 3-3. If he missed, both teams would have to send five more players for another round of penalty kicks. 

After Morales’ goal sailed to the right of Denmark goalie David Gad and into the net, the Wolverines swarmed Morales as he ripped his jersey off and ran to the crowd. 

Along with the winning goal, Josh Bateman, Harrison Marsden and Jack Schnarr made their shots to take the 4-3 win.

Javier Morales celebrates his game winning penalty kick with his teammates after the Friday, March 12 West Forsyth victory over Denmark.

Goalie Liam Badger, who did not play in the first half, blocked two Denmark penalty kicks to give West the advantage. Badger and Gad both had great nights in the goal with a handful of saves each. 

“Expect the unexpected,” Ortega said. “It is always difficult to win on penalty kicks because a lot of it is mental and a lot is luck. Our boys stepped up and a win is a win. I think they earned it.” 

No team ever held momentum for long during regulation. West scored the first goal when Thad Harp put a goal in bottom left with 30:03 left in the game. 

However, Denmark did not let that lead last for a minute. 

After Benji Ashtar’s shot ricocheted off West goalie Grant Bailey, Jonathan Kobby gained possession and scored Denmark’s only goal with 29:27 left in the half. 

Ashtar, along with several other teammates, got off plenty of shots after scoring, but were never able to score again in the game. Taye Beckford, Camden Barnett and Brayden Barnett all made their penalty kicks at the end of the game. 

Denmark’s defense played well throughout the entire game and did not let West have too many opportunities to take shots. At the end of regulation, Schnarr sent a scorcher to the Denmark goal, but Gad made a phenomenal save to send the game to overtime. 

Denmark (6-4, 1-2 Region 6-7A) will return to action at 8 p.m. Friday, when the Danes travel to Forsyth Central.

Ortega said he hopes his team can bottle what they had tonight and take it into the rest of their region schedule. 

“The harder games are coming our way,” Ortega said. “These region games against North and Denmark just prove that we are playing in one of the toughest regions. We’ve got to get back to training on Monday and go take our season.” 

West (6-4, 1-2 Region 6-7A) will travel to Pickens in Jasper for a non-region match Tuesday before playing the No. 1 Class 7A team in the state, South Forsyth, on Friday.