They certainly came in handy in a Region 5AAAAAA game against east Cobb rival Lassiter on Saturday.
Walton’s only regulation goal came on a penalty kick, and once two 5-minute overtimes expired, the Raiders made four of five penalty kicks. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Michael Jurick saved Lassiter’s final two attempts to win at Raider Valley and stay undefeated in region play with only Etowah left to play.
The game was 1-all after overtime, before Walton won the penalty kick phase by a 4-2 margin.
Walton coach Bruce Wade said after the game that the Raiders practice penalty kicks “every day.”
“They’re like free throws in basketball,” he said. “They’re routine.”
The Walton girls defeated Lassiter 2-0 in the earlier game, and the games served as a fundraiser for former Walton girls soccer standout Erin Holt, who is recovering from severe brain trauma she sustained after getting hit by a drunk driver last November in Savannah.
A total of $756 was raised Saturday to help pay for Holt’s rehabilitation fees.
The Walton boys’ win puts them in position to claim the region title, even though they still have to go to Etowah on Thursday. But based on ball possession, it looked as if the game was going toward Lassiter’s favor.
The Trojans (10-5, 6-1) got on the board in the fifth minute, when Munear Abousaud tapped in Andrew Macuga’s pass from the right side of the box. Lassiter went on to take 11 more shots, but none found the net.
Meanwhile, Walton (14-1, 6-0) had just seven shots in regulation — one being a penalty kick — and it had just two in the first half. The Raiders ended up putting Christopher Jansen up top after he played in the back for most of the first half, and his size helped the Raiders win more balls.
Jansen also provided the equalizer in the 55th minute after he was tripped in the penalty box. His bullet of a shot went left as Lassiter goalkeeper Josh Stoll leaned right.
Lassiter had chances to break the tie.
Jamar Oakley took two shots that were saved by Jurick, and he also had another shot during the first overtime period that was high. Abousaud’s header with 10 seconds to play in the first overtime just missed the crossbar.
“I told everyone I was proud of how we played, even though the result didn’t go the way we wanted it,” Lassiter coach Sam Dietrich said. “I wish we could have put another one in, but sometimes that’s just the way it works.”
Walton also had additional scoring chances in the second half, with most coming on long throw-ins by Connor Liney. At least six of his throw-in attempts went into the penalty box, giving Walton chances to score, but all of them were denied by Lassiter’s back line.
When it came down to penalty kicks, Walton’s Jensen and Walker Nance, and Lassiter’s Abousaud and Justin Black, all scored to start things off. Walton’s Jack Crow accounted for the Raiders’ third penalty kick goal before Jurick guessed correctly and slapped away Macuga’s shot.
Lassiter stayed alive when Charlie Williams’ shot missed wide-right, Jurick guessed correctly again to save Oakley’s attempt and Christian Lucas scored Walton’s game-winner.
“Honestly, I don’t know if we can practice it,” Jurick said of his back-to-back saves. “We can practice it, but it would be against our own guys. It comes down to guessing the right away.”
Walton 2, Lassiter 0: Walton shut Lassiter out with goals in each half.
Casey Wertz’s goal to put Walton (10-3, 5-1 Region 5AAAAAA) on the board sparked the Lady Raiders when she managed to kick one in while falling down after colliding with a Lassiter defender. Lucy Sanders assisted Wertz’s goal.
Delaney Erwin scored Walton’s second goal on an assist by Madeline Wellstead.