Willard soccer wins home tournament title on late penalty kick


By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com0

The ending to Saturday afternoon’s Willard Invitational championship game was so odd that it brought out the rulebook and expert sources for a final verdict.

In the end, Katelyn Magee’s penalty kick goal stood as Willard beat Bolivar 1-0 to take first place in its annual home tournament.

Magee drew a foul in the box with under 10 seconds remaining and converted her ensuing penalty kick.

“I didn’t think I was going to get the foul call, but it was a dirty tackle anyway. When they called it, I just thought, ‘Ok, this next part is easy. Just hit it in. Just pass the ball in,” Magee said.

The official ending, though, wasn’t nearly that simple.

Bolivar argued that time had expired after the last-second foul call.

“(The referee) did not stop the clock. Therefore, when he went to talk to the other official about the call, the clock just continued to run down to zero,” said Bolivar coach Steve Fast.

“At first, I thought time had expired. But then, it was determined that the clock does stop as soon as the referee makes the PK call. He let the clock run out, so that’s why they put a few seconds back on.”

Fast added, with a laugh: “I was hoping they’d make her re-kick it.”

As the discussion first unfolded, the head referee went back to the locker room to retrieve an official rulebook.

About midway through the 10-minute review, Willard coach Jamie Waddell tried calling local soccer sages for their input – including longtime Nixa coach Evan Palmer.

“That’s a rule that I honestly didn’t know was there – if (the clock) stops on the (penalty) call or if the clock stops when the girl scores it or whatever,” Waddell said. “Now we all know it stops on the foul. Hopefully, we won’t have to deal with that again.

“I thought it was the right rule – that the clock stops on the penalty foul call – but I wasn’t 100% sure.”

Magee’s goal was upheld, and the officials added 4.4 seconds back on the clock. Bolivar had to take a desperation kick from midfield.

Like a kickoff in football, all 11 Lady Liberators lined up at the midfield line and sprinted toward the Willard goal as time expired.

“It’s a rare ending,” Fast said. “It’s kind of like that last-second basketball play where everybody says don’t make the (foul) call. I thought it was an aggressive play, but both girls were battling for the ball and it could’ve gone either way.”

On a windy day, Bolivar out-possessed Willard for much of the match but was held scoreless for just the second time this season.

Fast thought Bolivar actually played better than its prior match with Willard on April 4, when the Lady Liberators won at home in penalty kicks.

“They really ran us around that match. They out-muscled us, out-played us and out-possessed us,” Fast said. “Coming into today, we just talked about having a better overall game and making more plays. Our girls did much better today against a very solid team.”

Saturday’s win helped a young Willard team (7-5 overall) end its recent skid of close losses. The Lady Tigers suffered a pair of PK losses (Bolivar, Carl Junction) and a double-overtime loss (Republic) in the three games leading up to their home tournament.

“It’s a great win,” Magee said. “We’ve played several long matches here lately, so there’s a lot of tiredness that comes with this, too.”

Magee, a junior, has been the team’s leading scorer this season. Junior Kenadie Limb and freshman Adia Hull have also provided scoring support.

“Katelyn’s got great speed,” Waddell said. “It’s tough for other teams to defend. She did a great job of getting inside the box and it was unfortunate for (Bolivar) that all that was left was to try a tackle.

“We missed a PK on Thursday and I know that was kind of eating at her. I’m glad to see her step up and put this one in and get us the win.”

The loss dropped Bolivar to 8-2 overall. The Lady Liberators are hoping to provide a proper send-off for Fast, who is retiring at the end of the season.

Bolivar moved back down to Class 2 this season. A potential district title rematch with Logan-Rogersville looms next month. It would be the third time in four years that Bolivar and Logan-Rogersville have played for a district title, and the rubber match in the series.

Bolivar has had balanced scoring thus far. Seniors Claire Giglio, Sahara Adams and Ese Jones, along with junior Stella Scowden, have led the way.

“Scoring has kind of been by committee right now,” Fast said. “We haven’t just decided on one set player. It’s whoever has the hot foot that day.”

Bolivar continues a busy stretch with three games next week, starting with a home match versus Aurora (4-5 overall) on Monday night.

Willard also has a three-game week ahead. The Lady Tigers play at Nixa (11-1 overall) on Tuesday night.

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