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Xavier Ulshafer makes a save of an overtime penalty kick to set up Republic’s win.

X-Factor: Ulshafer Scores and Saves in Tiger Win

As soon as the second overtime period against Webb City ended in a 1-1 tie, goalkeeper Xavier Ulshafer asked coach Jesus Zuniga for a chance to take one of the five upcoming penalty kicks.

“Why not?” Zuniga said afterwards about his decision to give Ulshafer the opportunity. “That’s the kind of confidence I’m looking for.”

Ulshafer’s and four other Tigers made their kicks, and Ulshafer also stopped one of Webb City’s kicks to give the Tigers a 1-1 (4-3) overtime win against Webb City in their final home game of the season.

Republic had taken a 1-0 lead in the first half on a goal by Santino Stiglianese. Republic made the lead hold up until late in the second half, when the Cardinals sneaked one past Ulshafer with about 2:30 remaining.

From that point on, the Tigers put plenty of pressure on the Webb City defense, but just missed their opportunities ton win it. In the final ten seconds of regulation, a Republic shot flew about two feet wide of the right post. As time expired in the second overtime, another shot bounced off the crossbar. But those near-misses only extended what was ultimately a Republic victory.

In penalty kicks, Webb City shot first and scored, with Stiglianese tying it up 1-1. Webb City went up 2-1 on its second shot, and Ulshafer stepped out of the goal to take a shot himself. Webb City’s keeper guessed correctly, but the ball got by him again to even the score 2-2.

The next Webb City shot sailed high, but Connor VanMatre’s shot for Republic was blocked, leaving the score tied.

On the fourth shot, Ulshafer dove to his left and knocked the ball away for a save, putting the Tigers back in control. Caleb Hicks stepped up to make his shot, and after a Webb City goal tied the score, Brayden Tharp knocked the ball into the unguarded left half of the net to clinch the win.

The victory continues a late-season turnaround for the Tigers, who have a near-miss against state-ranked Glendale and wins against Rogersville and Webb City in the last week. The Tigers close out their regular season with a match at Kickapoo.

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