by John Buckridge
The Knights knew they had to keep up the intensity in the second round of the playoffs, where they faced off against the Purchase Panthers Wednesday, Nov. 6. The team had a hard time stomaching an overtime loss to Purchase on Oct. 26, and sought to redeem themselves.
This time, though, they were in hostile territory as the scene switched to Purchase College for this semifinal game. This intense and hard fought soccer game would go right down to the wire. After a goalless regulation and two overtimes, the Knights pulled through with an 8-7 victory in a shootout.
Throughout the course of the game, both defenses were stingy, and neither gave an inch. Neither defense wanted to give up the first goal because as the game wore on, it appeared as if whichever team scored first would win, 1-0. Players on both offenses constantly found themselves on breakaways with the net in sight, only to have their run interrupted by a defender, and the ball taken away. Even when a shot-on-goal was made, the goalkeepers used everything they had to make a save.
Tempers on the field ran high, as multiple penalties were committed and a lot of pushing, shoving, and jersey tearing occurred. Both teams attacked the ball in a full on assault. They knew that whoever blinked first, was going to cost their team the season. By the end of regulation the two teams combined to have 40 shots on goal and 22 saves, adding up to a 0-0 tie. The scoreless tie would remain through two overtime periods, making it 110 minutes of total play time.
The stage had been set for a shootout. Most of the pressure was now put on the shoulders of the goalkeepers, Matt Darling for the Knights, and Esteban Aguilar for the Panthers. After nine rounds of penalty kicks, Darling was able to come up with a clutch stop as he batted away the shot by Panther midfielder, Danny Moallem.
All the Knights needed now to win was one more goal from senior Christian Redl. Christian got set for the biggest penalty kick of his career with a calm and cool demeanor. He charged the still ball, faked left, went back right, and softly tapped a roller perfectly into the corner of the net, past the diving Aguilar.
The game ended 8-7 in the penalty shootout as Redl leaped into the air with a fist pump and was swarmed by a sea of blue jerseys as his teammates piled up on him in euphoria. What an unbelievably hard fought win from the Knights. It was quite the way to get into the championship game. The Knights proved how sweet redemption can be.