Boys’ Soccer Falls to Roseland Collegiate Prep in NCS Match on PKs

Ethan Kulchin was the spark plug for South Fork’s offense last Wednesday night in Miranda [Photo by Crystal Salomon]

South Fork Boys’ soccer wrapped up its season last Wednesday night in Miranda, playing Roseland Collegiate Prep to a 2-2 draw at the end of regulation and then lasting two ten-minute overtime periods to put the match into a penalty kick tie-breaker round. In the often-criticized format for settling a draw, South Fork lost the shootout 3-0.

“Even though you hate to get a loss, it was the high point of our season,” said first year head coach Kelly Paine. “Everybody played really good hard soccer. It was great.”

The match got off to an alarming start when RCP scored within the first two minutes. An attacker broke loose on the left flank and Cub keeper junior Cooper Scott came a few yards outside of his penalty box to clear the ball. However, RCP intercepted the clearance and took advantage of the open net by beating the defenders who had covered the goal line in Scott’s absence to poke in their first goal of the evening.

RCP continued to have a slight majority of possession, although South Fork became dangerous any time they were able to get the ball to freshman forward Ethan Kulchin’s feet. Lightning quick and with the determination of a bullet train, Kulchin beat defenders on sheer will. About 15 minutes into the half, his shot could not be corralled by the RCP keeper and he fired in the rebound for the equalizer.

As the half went on, RCP continued to have the lion’s share of the ball, but South Fork repelled attack after attack, with Scott making heroic saves while freshman defender Graham McConnell refused to allow any of RCP’s speedy forwards a good strike at the ball.

South Fork continued to make the best of their chances and again Kulchin worked his way into the penalty box and fired a bullet which deflected off the RCP keeper and to the feet of sophomore midfielder Jayden Paine who alertly passed the ball into the back of the net for a 2-1 South Fork lead at halftime.

When the second half opened up, RCP had replaced its keeper and as the more mature squad with the higher seed, played with an urgency that caused South Fork’s defense to turn it up a notch.

Graham Mcconnell anchored the defense last Wednesday night in South Fork’s NCS battle [photo by Crystal Salomon]

Scott made numerous diving saves and withstood a violent body slam by an RCP attacker that had much of the crowd seeing red, but the official pulled out only a yellow card as Scott slowly got to his feet and shook off the impact.

Meanwhile, seniors Chris Arbuthnot and Rickie Anderson had the “games of their lives” according to Coach Paine. “The whole back line stepped up and did an amazing job.”

Finally, with just ten minutes left in the game, a relentless RCP attack resulted in an equalizer and the whole team celebrated getting a new lease on post-season life that had nearly slipped through their fingers.

At the end of 80 minutes of regulation play, two ten-minute periods of sudden death overtime were played, and both sides were showing signs of fatigue as hopeful long balls were played to attacking players who could do little to get shots off on the end of them from either side.

In the PK round, RCP looked more confident and better rehearsed. South Fork could not get a PK past the RCP keeper, and Scott was unable to save any of RCP’s kicks, giving RCP the win.

The Santa Rosa private school, whose campus burned to the ground and many of whose students lost homes in the horrendous blaze 4 weeks ago, went on to win in the semi-final round 1-0 over Rincon Valley Christian, giving the Cubs some bragging rights by virtue of their relative success against RCP.

The Cubs will lose just two players to graduation in the spring and bring back 14 returners to the program in the fall, who now have not only a full season under their belts after not having a team at all in 2016, but also have play-off experience which will give them a little more confidence playing at that level in the future.

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