PILOT MOUNTAIN — For the second time in three years, the Mount Airy Bears came up short to Bishop McGuinness in a penalty kick shootout to determine the No. 1 playoff seed out of the Northwest 1A Conference in soccer. By a score of 7-4, Bishop won the shootout and will receive the conference’s spot in the state playoffs while Mount Airy will settle for a wildcard bid.
“We’ve never missed four in a row in the years we’ve done this,” Mount Airy coach Will Hurley said. “But credit to Bishop, if you can hit seven in a row, you probably deserve to win.”
An idea concocted by Hurley and former East Surry soccer coach William Hart, the 10-man penalty shootout was adopted by the conference as the standard to break a tie. After the teams both finished the regular season at 5-1 in conference play, the shootout was arranged Thursday on neutral ground at East Surry to settle the matter of the top seed.
Mount Airy was awarded the first kick and sent Robert Brown to start the fun. Brown sent the ball to the right-upper 90 of the goal to break the ice. Cameron Bovender evened the score on the first kick for the Villains.
Up next was Kaleb Morrison for the Bears. Morrison elected to kick the ball to the bottom right of the goal just outside the keeper’s reach. Bishop once again evened the score when David Molen sent the ball to the same spot.
Anselmo Salazar continued the trend of sending the ball low with another goal for the Bears. With Mount Airy leading 3-2, Brandon Linares scored the Villain’s third goal to tie it.
Jackson Tumbarello approached the penalty line and broke the streak of made goals. Tumbarello sent the ball flying through the football uprights. While good for three points in football, Tumbarello’s kick allowed Bishop’s Andrew Kabealo to give his team the lead.
The Granite Bears suffered another miss when Julio Contreras’ shot was blocked. Andrew DeSalvo extended the lead for Bishop McGuinness by sending the ball out of Mount Airy keeper Jesus Valadez’s reach.
Down 5-3, Mount Airy junior Marc Garcia had a chance to cut into the Villain lead. Garcia’s shot was low, hard, and to the left side’s lower 90 but was blocked. Nathan Joseph put the Villains up 6-3 on the ensuing kick.
It was do or die for the Bears when Liam Overby approached the goal. Overby’s shot looked good, but the keeper managed to save it. Alan Linares put it away with a goal that gave Bishop a 7-3 victory.
A wildcard for the playoffs, Hurley still has faith his 19-1-1 team can make a deep run.
“I think when our backs are against the wall, we play better,” Hurley said.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith