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Prep Soccer: West Rowan wins

By David Shaw
dshaw@salisburypost.comMOUNT ULLA ó West Rowan opened its boys soccer season Tuesday night with a match that can only be classified as a PK Special.
The host Falcons scored twice on penalty kicks in the second half, then outscored East Rowan 10-9 in a 20-round session of penalty kicks to win 4-3 in the Rowan County Tournament semifinals.
“This shows our go-big-or-go-home attitude,” winning keeper Nick Guertin said after West advanced to today’s 7 p.m. championship game against Salisbury. “I think we changed a lot of people’s minds tonight.”
They changed East Rowan’s. The Mustangs (1-1) built a 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes and extended their margin to three when sophomore Robby Barnes netted his fourth goal of the season at the 30-minute mark.
“We were focusing on the game, playing to the flag, staying in front of their players and winning the ball,” said ER interim coach Pet Keovilay. “In the second half we stopped playing that way.”
Keovilay subbed for regular coach John McNeil, who was out of town attending a funeral. When forward John Garus pushed an early rebound past freshman Bertin Suarez and Jantzen Stirewalt converted a long shot from right wing moments later, it appeared Keovilay would make a triumphant return.
“We were down,” said West fullback Jose Garcia. “But we stayed determined. We came out with a gameplan that didn’t work out. Halftime helped us and we sort of fixed everything that was wrong.”
The repair shop opened late in the first half, when Denys Guerrero’s bullet from the right side caromed off an East defender and slid into the cage to trim the deficit to 3-1.
Eight minutes into the second half, West’s Micah Cook was tackled from behind in the penalty area and awarded the game’s first penalty kick. He nailed it, drilling a left-footed shot into the upper right corner.
“Our forwards fought for the ball,” said second-year West coach Ryan Villiard. “It’s unfortunate they got taken down in the box, but that’s what they called.”
It stayed 3-2 until the final two minutes when Guerrero was yanked down in the box, resulting in a game-tying PK by Cook, a junior midfielder.
That set the stage for a nail-biting finish. Each team scored on its first nine attempts in the round of penalty kicks. Finally, ER’s Taylor Owen whipped a shot off the crossbar. “I just remember looking up and hearing a twang,” said Guertin. “Then I went into my pre-victory run.”
West secured the win when Garcia slapped a ground ball past East goalie Dillon Arey into the lower left corner.
“We played Russian Roulette,” said Keovilay, who will also coach the Mustangs in today’s consolation game with Carson. “We kept adding bullets to the cylinder. Sooner or later, it’s gonna pop.”

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