Eighty minutes of regulation. Thirty minutes of overtime. Twenty-two penalty kicks. And after all that, Republic is moving on.
Republic knocked off Carthage in a district semifinal thriller Monday, 3-2 (11-10) in overtime penalty kicks. The game ended when Carthage’s 11th kick flew wide right, setting off a celebration by Republic players and fans. The win helped Republic avenge a PK loss at Carthage earlier this season.
People in Carthage will almost certainly be talking about the ending for a long time. After both teams scored on their first ten penalty kicks, Republic freshman Brayden Tharp hit the crossbar with his shot. But the official ruled that Carthage’s goalkeeper – a backup who had entered the game after an injury in the second half – came off the goal line too soon. Tharp got a second kick, and sailed that one high as well, but again the official ruled that Carthage’s keeper had moved forward too quickly. Tharp scored on his next kick to give Republic the lead, and Carthage, after tying the score ten straight times, finally missed.
“We knew it was going to be a tough task, but we felt like we had a really good opportunity,” said coach Kevin Hauck. “We felt like we matched up well against Carthage and what they like to do… The boys’ confidence just grew as the game went on. It just feels really good to get this victory tonight.”
Carthage had taken the lead twice in regulation – once in each half. In the first half, Republic evened the score when Kalem Murray’s free kick from near midfield sailed into the box and Marco Donjuan headed it into the goal. In the second half, with Carthage leading 2-1, Jabali Wanekaya scored the equalizer with an assist from Will Fronabarger.
“When it went to PKs, I thought we had a lot of high energy. We’d been giving them a hard time the whole game,” said Republic goalkeeper Drake Lightfoot. “I get a little nervous around PKs. If they hit the post, it’s going in no matter what. But we got the win tonight, and that’s all that matters.”