Shootout win propels Sparts

"First they ran for 90 minutes. Then they started shooting. And Bainbridge's six-shooter beat the visitors' five-shooter.After two hours of soccer Thursday night at the swamp normally known as Spartan Stadium, the BHS soccer team booted themselves into the state playoffs with a 6-5 shootout victory over visiting Lakes.The teams had battled to a 1-1 tie in 80 minutes of regulation play and two five-minute overtimes.The shootout - the ultimate tie-breaker - is a simple mano a mano format that even non-soccer fans can appreciate. Each team sends out its players one by one for a point-blank penalty kick at the opposing goalie. As soon as one team's kicker fails while the other succeeds, the game is over.There's really not too much the keeper can do, Bainbridge coach Alex von Reis Crooks said. The kicker just takes three steps and blasts the ball from 12 feet, and it's going 60 miles an hour. Once in a while, (the keeper will) get lucky and dive the right way, but usually, it's just kind of a head game to see which kicker fails.And so it went on Thursday. First up for Bainbridge was Mark Kanev, who shot into the right corner - but was matched by Lakes' splendid Terrell Mullins.Next up was Bainbridge's Matt Dick. The Lakes goalie got a hand on the ball, but couldn't stop it. The answer came from Jeffrey Du, who scored Lakes' regulation goal.Cam Lawler put his shot into the left side. Then the von Reis Crooks brothers were up. Mitka von Reis Crooks drove a grounder into the right side, then brother Anders nailed one into the left corner.Each time, the visitors answered.Alex Ruder was number six for the Sparts. He hesitated slightly, got the Lakes goalie into the air early, then floated a shot over his helpless opponent. And suddenly it was over. Lakes player Michael Stolz appeared to lose his footing as he tried to dance toward the ball, and the kick sailed high over the crossbar, giving Bainbridge the win.Regulation play was a demonstration of soccer excellence, but also of missed opportunities for Bainbridge.We got right in front of their goal a few times in the second part of the first half, but we couldn't put the ball in the net, coach von Reis Crooks said.Lakes broke through first in the second half. Mullins threw the ball in from the corner. And while Bainbridge stopped the initial attempt at a head-in goal, they couldn't get the ball out of the danger zone, and Du was able to poke it home.Bainbridge didn't get the tying score until 13:36 remained, when a J.D. Fisher pass was headed in by Jeremy Lehv.The Bainbridge coach said the low score was the result of two evenly matched teams pitting strength against strength.They are the best ball-handling team we've seen, von Reis Crooks said. Their footwork is fantastic. So they could get the ball downfield. What we tried to do was use our good defenders to push them outside, away from the goal. So even though they spent a lot of time in our end, they didn't get that many shots.The win matches Bainbridge against the Metro League's sixth-place team at a time and place yet to be determined."

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