By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Nixa, Mo. — With both Nixa and Monett harboring postseason soccer aspirations, it was only fitting for Thursday’s match to be decided by penalty kicks in a 2-1 Eagles victory.
Nixa goalkeeper Nick Reid turned away a pair of Monett strikes during the penalty kick series, while the Eagles converted four of five opportunities to preserve the win.
For Reid, dealing with the one-on-one pressure is all part of the game.
“It’s always rough, but I think confidence is a big thing coming into that,” Reid said. “You can’t doubt yourself, and you just have to go with it and try and make the save.”
It also helps to have experience.
Just last week, the junior goalkeeper helped Nixa defeat Kickapoo in another game decided by penalty kicks.
Nixa head coach Evan Palmer praised Reid for holding his own during the one-on-one showdowns.
“Soccer can be such a brutal game,” Palmer said. “It’s just one of those things, and it happens. Nick made a nice save — we know we’re going to get at least one out of him — and so it’s nice to have a goalkeeper like that back there that can save the big penalty.”
Nixa jumped on the scoreboard midway through the first period, when Zach Voi found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Ten minutes later, Jony Perez punched in a goal from the right corner to give Monett the equalizer.
Both teams shared opportunities in the second half, yet neither could capitalize on a go-ahead score.
While Monett head coach Christobal Villa was pleased with his team’s attitude and effort, the Cubs attack — sans Jason Puente and his 185 career goals — is still a work in progress this season.
“When you go to PKs, it’s anybody’s game,” Villa said. “We have to follow the play, and we have to follow the shot. As a coach, I know it’s going to take a couple games for the boys to realize, ‘Hey … we’re not dependent on nobody anymore — It’s about us now,’”
With the score still tied 1-1 at the end of the second overtime period, the game moved to penalty kicks, where five players from each team alternate one-on-one shots in hopes of determining a winner.
Both Nixa and Monett converted three of the first four shots, leaving the outcome to the final player from each school.
Nixa’s Kyle Hirsch stepped into the box and calmly punched a shot into the right corner for the game-winner past Monett goalkeeper Joshua Patino.
“In PK, you generally have a spot where you go,” Hirsch said. “I was just thinking about going bottom or top right. I hit it there, and [Patino] dove the wrong way.”
According to Palmer, Hirsch wasn’t necessarily the team’s first option to close out the penalty kicks; however, injuries prompted the senior defender to step up with the game on the line.
“[Hirsch] likes to, reluctantly, take them,” Palmer said of the team’s penalty kicks. “He doesn’t want to if he doesn’t have to but, as we know, he was just so cool, calm and collected. That’s his demeanor, and he’s great at these, so I’m sure we’ll have him take them in the future.”
Nixa (4-2) travels to Ozark on Tuesday, Sep. 17, while Monett (3-2) gets a quick turnaround. The Cubs visit Springfield on Friday, Sep. 13 for the Parkview Tournament.
Varsity Final: Nixa – 2, Monett – 1 (PK)
First half scoring
12:06 Nixa goal – Zach Voi (Riley Lister assist)
23:07 Monett goal – Jony Perez (Esvin Merida assist)
Penalty kicks: Nixa – 4, Monett – 3
JV Final: Nixa – 0, Monett – 0