Boys Soccer: East Ridge loses in shootout to Stillwater in section championship
That's the one word that's yelled after each huddle the East Ridge boys soccer team breaks.
That one word was still said after a heartbreaking loss to Stillwater on Tuesday night that ended in a shootout.
"This team really reflects that family aspect," said senior Drew Kansas. "We are truly a family this season."
East Ridge came into Tuesday's match as the No. 2 seed in the section tournament. The only team above them was the Stillwater Ponies.
At the beginning of the game, the wind became a factor with gusts of wind that was pushing the soccer ball around without any help. That wind helped Stillwater in the first half score one goal early in the game.
The Raptors were looking to defend Stillwater hard until they had the wind in their favor in the second half. A few minutes after Stillwater's goal, East Ridge had an opportunity for a corner kick.
Junior Brennan Featherstone was positioned right next to the goal. With a perfect kick, Featherstone jumped in the air and connected his head to the ball to place it behind the goalie and into the net.
East Ridge had tied the game up at 1-1.
After that score, it became a defensive game for both teams as no team scored another goal in the first or second half.
This resulted in overtime play. The two teams played not one, but two 10-minute overtime periods to determine a winner.
After those 20 minutes, the two were still tied at 1-1. The only thing left to do was begin a shootout.
"We just kept fighting all night and we never gave up," said senior Mitchell Watanabe. "We knew it was going to be a battle until the very end."
In the shootout, Stillwater kicked first and connected on the first two shots. East Ridge came back and tied it 2-2 in the shootout with goals from Featherstone and Alex Hager. Then, Stillwater connected on another goal, but the Raptors missed the next shot.
This gave the Ponies a 3-2 lead with two shots remaining. Stillwater connected on its fourth shot to take a 4-2 lead and East Ridge needed to score its fourth goal, otherwise the Ponies would capture the win.
The Raptors' shot got blocked and Stillwater clinched the victory.
Even though the Raptors weren't able to reach their goal of making the state tournament this season, they were able to have a successful regular season.
East Ridge finished the regular season with a 7-2-5 record, which placed the Raptors third in the conference with a 5-2-1 conference record.
The Raptors are losing nine seniors heading into the 2019 season, but every senior agreed that the future looks bright for this team.
"Next year's team will make it back here and will make it to state," Watanabe said. "We have so much talent coming back for us that they understand what it takes to get back here. I couldn't be more proud of these guys this season."