LIMA — Lima Central Catholic goalkeeper Jack Zerante had a gut feeling the penalty kick would be flying to his right.
And his guess was right on the mark.
Zerante’s diving save ended the penalty-kick shootout to give LCC a 1-0 victory over Temple Christian in the Division III boys soccer sectional finals Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
“When I felt that ball go into my hands it was the best feeling of this season so far,” Zerante said. “I knew we had won it.’’
The T-Birds won the match 3-2 on overtime penalty kicks.
Zerante made two key saves in the shootout to preserve the victory.
“He came up big,” LCC coach Tim McNamara said. “At the end of the match I told the guys we had the advantage because we had Jack in goal.’’
LCC (9-9) advances to the district semifinals to meet Kalida at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Kalida.
Kalida knocked off Spencerville 7-0 in that sectional final.
Temple Christian ends its year 7-9-1.
“We played hard, but I wish we could have generated a few more chances,” Temple coach B.J. McPheron said. “We did move Jake Holloway to a center forward spot (from midfield) to run with three forwards and get a few more chances and I think we did in the end.
“There has to be a team that loses today, and unfortunately it was us, but I’m proud of how hard our guys played.’’
Temple Christian won the regular-season matchup between the two teams 2-0.
McNamara thought the size of the Spartan Stadium turf field made a difference for passing, compared to playing at Temple during the season.
“It’s longer (and wider) and we were able to spread them out, pass the ball and kind of wear them down,” McNamara said.
The game was scoreless through regulation and two 15-minute, sudden-death overtime periods.
That set up the penalty-kick round.
John Sreenan, Josiah Simpson and Brayden Truex scored on penalty kicks for LCC.
“We worked on PKs this week in practice,” McNamara said. “The five guys who went up and took them were hitting them consistently in the corner. … We tell them know where you’re going when you walk up to that spot.’’
Isaac Lee and Josh Engle scored on PKs for Temple.
In the shootout, each team selects five shooters to take the penalty kicks.
With the PKs tied at 2 in Round 4, Truex fired his into the lower-left corner of the net.
That gave LCC a 3-2 lead.
Up stepped Joe Engle for Temple in Round 5.
Engle fired low left, but there was Zerante with his game-saving save at the post.
“I told myself I was going to go right on that one and I committed to it,” Zerante said. “I saw his movement. But it’s a guessing game, really.’’
Zerante also came up with a diving save at the left post on Josh Engle with 31 seconds left in regulation.
Zerante had six saves for the match, including the two in the shootout.
Temple Christian goalkeeper Cody Motter made eight saves.
“I thought Cody played great,” McPheron said. “He stood on his head.’’
Including the overtime periods, LCC outshot Temple 11-8.
LCC had the corner-kick edge, 4-2.
LCC had a couple of big opportunities in the final five minutes of regulation, but the Temple back line turned the T-Birds away.
Both Simpson and Trevor Longmeier had free kicks just outside the box in the final minutes, but couldn’t score. Simpson was also turned away on a breakaway.
“They did an incredible job keeping us out,” McNamara said.
After 110 minutes of 0-0 soccer, both teams went to the penalty-kick line.
Both teams missed their first shot.
In Round 2, Temple’s Lee scored in the upper-right corner.
LCC’s Sreenan tied it at 1 with a low-left liner into the net.
In Round 3, Temple’s Josh Engle scored and so did Simpson.
That tied the PK round at 2.
The Pioneers’ Preston Patrick went down the middle with his Round 4 shot and Zerante didn’t budge to make the save.
Truex answered with a low-left goal to give LCC a 3-2 PK lead after Round 4.
“We each have our spot that we work on in practice,” Truex said. “I was a little nervous, but I was hoping I’d see it go in the back of the net.’’
That set up the dramatic final save by the senior Zerante.
“I didn’t want to end it here. I said, ‘This cannot be my last game,” Zerante said.
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