GREENFIELD — As soon as the first penalty-kick goal slipped past Erik Silvey during the Sectional 23 semifinals Wednesday night, the New Palestine goalkeeper turned the page.
When a second and third skipped just out of reach to put the Dragons behind 3-2 against host Greenfield-Central after 80 minutes of scoreless regulation and 14 more in overtime, Silvey brushed himself off and went back to work.
“I tried to keep myself composed. I remained focused on the next shot. When you’re taking PKs, you have to stay focused on that PK. You can’t think about anything else,” Silvey said. “I was confident I could get a save and my teammates were going to be able to score one for me.”
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They scored three more for their defensive captain.
Jame Pridgen knotted up the best-of-five penalty-kick shootout 3-3 with a ricocheting left-corner kick that eventually dropped in past Greenfield-Central’s Elijah Diehr.
In sudden death, Jordan Harrison and Kyle Crawford went back-to-back, securing New Palestine’s thrilling 5-4 victory and a berth into Saturday’s sectional championship match — one step away from a repeat.
“We pride ourselves on defense first,” Silvey said. “Today, we came up in PKs with all of our teammates together.”
Silvey went 3 for 4 in save attempts after Greenfield-Central buried its first three penalty kicks. Westyn Wood, Nathan Capen and Enrique Ferrara put the Cougars up 3-2.
Kyle Doss and Caleb Eagleson converted for New Palestine before Pridgen came through and forced sudden death.
The Dragons hit their final two shots to counter Sean Julian’s sudden death goal, but through regulation and overtime neither goalkeeper permitted more than could haves.
Diehr recorded 10 saves not including two through the first five penalty kicks. The Cougars (9-6-2), which beat New Palestine 2-1 during the regular season on Sept. 17, fired 17 shots with eight on goal.
They entered the postseason with 45 goals scored at 2.8 per match, led by Enrique Ferrara’s 18.
“Ninety-four minutes of shutout soccer. When you have a player like Enrique, that speaks a lot for my defense, but it also just shows you the tension,” New Palestine head coach Jeff Burger said. “It was back and forth.”
New Palestine had 14 shots and 10 on goal, but Diehr continuously brick-walled the Dragons. Last year, the Cougars lost to New Palestine 1-0 in the sectional championship game.
“We had the opportunities, but we didn’t find the back of the net,” Greenfield-Central head coach Issac Beal said. “I thought we were the better side today, but it ended in penalties. We didn’t solve it during the game. When it’s left up to penalties, it’s a 50-50 chance at that point.”
One of the Cougars’ best scoring chances unfolded in the game’s 22nd minute when Ferrara lined a point-blank shot from 15-yards out that Silvey tip saved out of bounds.
The Cougars’ all-time career goal scorer had a one-on-one with 12:53 left in the regulation, scooping up a Luke Tuttle pass and pushing his shot a mere inches wide right of the goal.
In the 45th minute, Greenfield-Central also had a goal by Tuttle waved off due to an offside call.
New Palestine forced a tip save by Diehr in the first half’s final minute, and Ryan Miller went on the attack early in the second half as the Dragons increased their physicality with three shots on goal within 12 minutes.
In the final 20 minutes of regulation, Greenfield-Central had three shots go wide and two rejected by Silvey.
In overtime, Jack Sifferlen nearly found the net, but despite Silvey getting drawn out of the box, his defense kept the goal clean.
“You hate it for the Greenfield seniors, but at the same time, I’m very proud of my guys. I’m proud of their defense. We built our team on our keeper and our defense,” Burger said.
“We started out raw when Ryan Miller missed (the first PK), but I just told my guys, Silvey’s going to get one, and he was on the first two. The keeper from Greenfield was on, too. He made us have to hit almost perfect shots.”