Coach Jonathan Gross and his staff decided changes needed to be made, so senior forward Kennet Fosuhene was retrained as a goalkeeper specifically to help out with penalty kicks.
That decision paid off hugely as Harrison beat Walton on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs Friday at Raider Valley.
Deadlocked at 1-all through regulation and overtime, the Hoyas went on to have a 5-4 edge on PKs.
The win was the sixth in a row for Harrison (14-5-2), which is back in the semifinals for the second straight season and will visit Mill Creek on Tuesday for the right to advance to the championship game at Kennesaw State.
“We lost last year on PKs to Collins Hill, so it was a goal of this team to get back to the semifinals,” Gross said. “We’ve had some strange adversity all year, but you could see how the boys came together, and you could see how they fought for each other all night.”
Walton (18-3) scored the first goal of the game in the 15th minute off a goal from Jackson Crow. Walker Nance sent a free kick past two Harrison defenders and into the box, where Crow waited. He received the pass, turned and fired a shot from 10 yards away past goalkeeper Zach DeFrank and into the low-right center of the net for the 1-0 advantage.
The margin remained that way until the 75th minute, when a Walton defender was whistled for tackling in the box, giving Nathan Kaminski an attempt at a game-tying penalty kick.
Kaminski scored the equalizer, sending the ball past Walton goalkeeper Michael Jurick and into the top-right corner of the net.
The game remained tied at 1-all at the end of regulation and through the two overtime periods, leading to penalty kicks.
Walton’s Britton Ody scored first, off DeFrank, but Harry Deltac beat Jurick to even the score at 1-all. Fosuhene, however, made the save in the low-right area of the net off Joseph Astolfi’s attempt, and Brett Mace gave the Hoyas a 2-1 advantage.
Crow, Felipe Galarza and Charlie Williams all scored for Walton the rest of the way, but so did Harrison’s Kyle Phlegar and Mitchell Riccard. Kaminski’s penalty kick proved to be the game-winner, for the 5-4 edge.
“I had a feeling and just guessed the right way and, thankfully, came up with the save,” Fosuhene said. “I’m originally from England and played keeper back then for two to three years and then switched out to the field because I enjoyed it more. But it’s fun being back in the net and stopping the balls when I can.”
“Zack is a fantastic goalkeeper, but in this particular instance, we needed someone with a bit more explosive ability to get after the ball, because Walton is fantastic on PKs,” Gross said. “We thought Kennet gave us that sort of explosive ability, so we started training him in practice, and he did a fantastic job.”
Walton controlled the pace for the first half, but Harrison’s pressure to score in the second half evened things up, leading to Kaminski’s game-tying goal in regulation.
“We felt like there was a goal in the game for us, especially in the second half, the way we were possessing the ball and knocking it around,” Gross said. “We thought we’d get an opportunity to score at some point. The question was whether we could finish it. It was a phenomenal game. It was a shame someone had to lose on penalty kicks, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”
Walton had 11 shots compared to Harrison’s 10. DeFrank had three saves and Jurick finished with five.
“We played a very good Harrison team,” Walton coach Bruce Wade said. “We were in control of the game up until the penalty kick and a goal like that can definitely change a game. Taking it down to PKs, anything can happen.
“We have a ton of talent, and the boys did do well. To have only three losses on the season is amazing. Our goal was to go all the way, and it’s a part of life that sometimes you don’t get there.”