FENTON — The Sacred Heart soccer team fell in the Class 1 semifinal to Principia on penalty kicks Friday, despite goalkeeper Sebastian Aguero making what appeared to be several saves that could have sent the Gremlins through.
Principia’s second shooter in the PKs, Kippy Keller, was initially denied by Aguero’s dive to his right. After the referee ruled Aguero had stepped off the line too soon, Keller tried again and again was denied by the diving Aguero, but again the referee ruled Aguero had stepped off the line too soon. Keller converted his third chance.
A few minutes later Aguero appeared to have denied Principia’s Sean Thornton, but again the referee ruled Aguero had stepped forward too soon. Thornton converted his second chance to end the game.
“I always take two steps but this time I took one, after the first (call) I was just taking one,” Aguero said.
Aguero took the first attempt of the PKs and converted. Principia keeper Aaron Stafford denied Teagan Trammell but the Gremlins converted the next three with Max Martin, Chris Mergen and Chance Spangler.
Principia got shootout goals from Carson Hussey, Kaleb Keller and Seth Arens along with the two the Panthers converted when given a second and third chance.
MSHSAA observers confirmed to the Democrat following the game that the ruling was correct. A goalkeeper is allowed to move laterally along the line before the ball is kicked, but not step forward, as Aguero appeared to do, until the player taking the shot makes contact with the ball.
“That’s the most ridiculous officiated I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Sacred Heart coach Travis Cooper. “You don’t let a guy retake a penalty, give a guy three shots, twice, on penalty kicks, that’s ridiculous. The ball was saved cleanly. There’s nothing you can say about it. Sebastian did his job.”
Sacred Heart jumped in front in the 15th minute of a back-and-forth first half. Francisco Rojas, moments after being denied in front of an open net by Principia center-back Sawyer Bradley, made it 1-0 with a shot in off the post.
“We were getting frustrated before but with that goal, we calmed down,” Rojas said.
Principia had several chances late in the first half and early in the second but could not convert. George Agai made several runs dribbling around Gremlin defenders. One in the 36th minute was deflected out for a corner kick by the Gremlins defense. Over the following minute, the Panthers had three corner kicks before Martin finally cleared the ball away.
In the 43rd minute, Kaleb Keller beat the keeper but pushed his shot wide. Aguero then stepped in to save a free kick in the 48th minute and Spangler made a sliding stop to deny the Panthers in the 57th.
Principia broke through in the 60th minute as Cam Sellers headed in one of the Panthers’ seven corner kicks.
Both teams had chances in the last 20 minutes of regulation and the 30 minutes of overtime. Aguero denied Principia shooters multiple times and one of the few times he didn’t, the shot went slightly wide.
In the 94th minute, Josue Nunez had a chance wthat Stafford saved and in the 103rd minute, Nunez hit the post with a shot.
The Gremlins will face Belle for third place at 10 a.m. Saturday. St. Paul Lutheran beat Belle 5-1 in the other semifinal.
“They’ll be ready,” Cooper said. “They’re pretty upset. They feel that they got robbed, and justly so. They got completely robbed on this deal. They’ll be ready to come back out and play (Saturday).”
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles