BEAVERCREEK — You wouldn’t have expected anything less from two of the top D-III boys soccer teams in the region Wednesday night in a regional semifinal at Beavercreek High School.
Miami East and Troy Christian had played twice during the regular season, with one game ending in a tie and the other won by the Vikings 2-0.
Eighty minutes of regulation soccer, 30 minutes of overtime and five PKs from each team were not enough to decide.
But, on the eighth PK after Miami East’s attempt had hit the crossbar, Troy Christian sophomore Marek Bollinger was up to the challenge giving the Eagles a 3-2 win. Troy Christian made seven PKs, while Miami East made six.
He sent a kick into the upper left corner of the net to set off the celebration and send the Eagles to Saturday’s regional final at 4 p.m. at Lemon Monroe High School against Yellow Springs.
Troy Christian will take a 14-6-2 record into that game, while Yellow Springs is 19-1-2 and owns a 2-1 win over the Eagles.
Eagles coach Ryan Zeman had to check his heart rate after the win.
“Wow,” Zeman said. “That is stressful. This was the third game in a row for Miami East. Karter Denson has done a great job stepping in for our goalie, who suffered a knee injury (Tanner Conklin). He had a great game tonight and had a save during the PKs.
“Marek (Bollinger) played tonight. He didn’t play a lot, but he is a young kid and made a great shot to win it.”
It was the end of a historic season for Miami East, who finished 15-3-2 and won the program’s first district title.
“I knew we had a great group of kids, so I knew we could have a really good season,” Miami East coach Nakilee Weni said. “The kids never stop battling.”
Troy Christian had the only goal off the first half when Alex Free found the back of the net off of an Evan Murphy assist with 26:44 remaining in the half to make it 1-0.
Then, just two minutes into the second half, Parker Penrod would drill a long ball and Aidan Barnishin would outrun the East defense to the ball and finish it for a 2-0 lead.
“Parker (Penrod) had a great game for us tonight,” Zeman said. “He just saw the opportunity there and Aidan (Barnishin) did a great job finishing on it.”
But, the Vikings weren’t going down without a fight.
Ethan Paulus would answer with 37:17 remaining to get the Vikings within 2-1.
Then, with just 5:19 remaining in the game, Colin McEldowney would score off a Caleb Stone assist to tie the game 2-2.
With less than 10 seconds remaining, East goalie Devin Abshire would make the save on a 1v1 and send the game into overtime.
Abshire would have several saves in the 15 minute overtime period from point blank range to send it to PKs.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Zeman said.
Weni was not surprised by Abshire’s performance.
“He had a great game for us,” Weni said. “These kids are never going to stop battling.”
On the first five PKs, both teams would make four of five kicks.
Making it for Troy Christian were Free, Evan Murphy, Parker Penrod and Max Barnishin.
Finding the net for East were Stone, McEldowney, Luke Haymaker and Ethan Gudorf.
That made it sudden death on PKs.
Hitting the sixth kicks were East’s Tayden Gross and Troy Christian’s Miles Gordon.
Making the seventh kicks were East’s Jakob Marker and Troy Christian’s Braden Chambers.
When East’s eighth kick hit the crossbar, it set the stage for Marek Bollinger to play hero.
“I never expected to be in a position to win the game for us,” Bollinger said. “I was super nervous. I can tell you that. It was exciting (to see the ball go in the goal). It felt amazing.”
Denson had seven saves for Troy Christian who had 11 shots on goal.
Miami East had 11 shots on goal and Abshire had eight saves.
And it all came down to an unlikely hero to bring and end to an epic battle in which both teams left it all on the field.
You can reach Sports Editor Rob Kiser at [email protected]