Dogs nipped in OT shootout
By Greg Sullivan
With just a trace of good fortune Thursday night, the Dogs would have found themselves cruising to an easy win and on to the second round of the state playoffs.
But whatever voodoo and evil spirits the Westside Warriors packed with them for their trip to Madison, it surely took its toll on the Dogs, keeping them out of the net despite countless assaults on the goal, in a game where Morgan County's dominance was evident everywhere but on the scoreboard.
Westside, meanwhile, looked futile for 90 minutes until the third overtime, when they edged the Dogs in a penalty kick shootout, 4-3, after not posing any serious scoring threat for the game's entirety up to that point. If the game were still being played, without penalty kicks, it would be a safe bet Westside still would not have cracked the scoreboard. But, with their luck, maybe Morgan County wouldn't have either.
"I felt like we totally outplayed the other team," said Bulldog Head Coach Chip Meyer following the disappointing and frustrating loss. "I'm proud of these kids. I've had these guys since the eighth grade."
It was an especially tough loss to swallow for the team's seniors who walked away feeling as though they dropped an important game to a team they couldn't understand how they didn't just beat.
The Dogs, after all, had won 10 straight games to pick up a region championship, and all signs pointed toward an 11th straight win early on as the team had a lion's share of scoring opportunities starting with the first half.
Morgan County had 27 shots on goal for the game, six mercilessly hitting the post and another on a penalty kick in the third overtime, while Westside had just two shots on goal in the game, one a slow dribbler that Bulldog keeper Tyler Jensen easily scooped up and one a few yards wide of the goal.
Bulldog kicks pinged off the rim of the goal with 36:47 left in the first half, with 3:00 left in the first half, 34:45 left in the second half, 34:25 in the second half, and with 16:20 remaining.
In the first of two five minute overtimes, the Dogs dominated the action, but still came up empty.
The second overtime, however, was where the team really had some big opportunities. Morgan County had two shots on goal in the first 15 seconds of the extra period. Then a Zach Yost shot came up short with 3:15 left, followed by Jacob Connelly shot that was deflected.
Greg Manzo missed a shot on goal off a corner kick. Manzo's shot then ricocheted over to Connelly with 30 seconds left, which looked to set up a story book ending.
The senior, however, was plagued by the same bad breaks that had followed his team around all night, as his shot bounced off the post and time ran out on another overtime period sending the crowd to groans.
The third overtime period, with its penalty kick format, proved to be an equalizer for Westside as they clinched a win when the Dogs missed their final penalty shot on yet another ball bouncing off the post, the seventh time for the game.
Putting the tough loss aside, though, the Dogs can take some solace on what was a pretty successful season where they posted a solid 11-6 record on their way to a region title and 10 straight wins before Thursday.