By Nuriel Moghavem
In the second round of CIF playoffs on Feb. 22, the boysâ varsity soccer team defeated Royal 3-1 in penalty kicks after an injury-time equalizer by Zack Mirman â07 put the game into extra time.
The Wolverines lost to the visiting team 5-0 in preseason play, but a Royal goal before halftime in this CIF second round fixture motivated them to play with far more intensity in the second half.
After a physical second half which was played mostly in Royalâs half of the field, Halim Daniel â08 unleashed an extra-time throw to the center of the six-meter box. Royal goalkeeper Nick Eldridge came out to intercept the ball but missed, leaving Mirman an open goal.
Two 15-minute halves of extra time and two 10-minute periods of sudden death yielded physical play, but no goals.
Thomas McAndrews â07 was the first Wolverine to shoot a penalty kick, and the first to slot it in, celebrating in a style remincent of Manchester United midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo.
As Wolverine goalkeeper Matthew Kremer â07 prepared to take the goal against a Royal shooter, he offered to shake Royal keeper Eldridgeâs hand. Eldridge responded with an elbow to Kremerâs chest.
Royal scored their first kick, John Howe â07 did not convert the next, and the second Royal shot flew over the woodwork.
Chris Okano’s successful kick put the Wolverines at a strategic advantage, and Kremer in the spotlight. He was next in the lineup to shoot, but he would first have to contend with another Royal shot.
Kremer responded to the elbow in the chest at the beginning of the shootout with an arrow to Royalâs heart. He stopped Royal’s kick.
It now up to him score the next penalty and put a lock on the Wolverinesâ victory. Eldridge went to the left, Kremer to the right, and fans rushed the field to celebrate a 3-1 win and the boysâ soccer teamâs best season on record.
The team will face Millikan High School in CIF quarterfinals on Friday at 3 p.m.