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Vikes top Rampants in first round classic

110719-JHR soccer

J.H. Rose's Harrison Ershadi, left, and D.H. Conley's Haiden Respass fight for the ball during a game on Nov. 6, 2019.

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Wednesday night’s first-round state soccer playoff matchup between 24th-seeded D.H. Conley and ninth-seeded rival J.H. Rose was nothing short of a classic.

After a physical game that included yellow cards, nifty moves and plenty of shots, the Rampants and Vikings found themselves scoreless, facing the gauntlet of penalty kicks to determine the winner.

Rose stepped up first with Jack Hast, who looked to best Vikings backup goalkeeper Britton Beavers. Beavers entered the game late in the second half after starter Oen Medevielle suffered a shoulder injury.

Hast tried sneak one past Beavers into the bottom right corner, but an athletic play led to the save, putting DHC in the driver’s seat. DHC’s Juan Esquivel made his shot, followed by Rose’s Harrison Ershadi.

Tied at one apiece, Ethan Kennedy found the back of the net, putting the pressure back on the Rampants and midfielder Reese Cutler, who then watched in disbelief as his shot bounced off the crossbar. Conley’s Austin Harrell pushed the ball into the net, followed by Rose’s Ryan Moloney to make the score 3-2 in Conley’s favor.

Massimo Mannino then stepped in to take the potential game-winning shot. After lining it up, Mannino went high-left and secured the Vikings’ upset.

“I just went into the penalty kicks like I do in practice,” Beavers said. “I just dove, guessed the right way and made the save.”

It was DHC’s first win over the Rampants this season.

“I’m so excited for these kids,” Conley head coach Shannon McLaughlin said. “We lost to Rose twice this year. It’s hard to beat a team three times, and we knew that. We had a good game plan in place, a couple new keepers in this game, and the team just went out there and executed.”

In the 52-degree chill, McLaughlin found herself soaked by her players’ celebration postgame. The players also repeated the team mantra, “Play for the name on the front, not the back.” Beavers’ also received a well-deserved share of attention from his teammates

“Cold as ice,” McLaughlin said when asked to describe Beavers’ performance. “He didn’t flinch and he was ready to go. He’s been ready to go. It’s good to have that kind of depth with your goalkeepers.”

On the other side, the loss brought an end to the Rampants’ season. JHR will graduate 10 seniors from the roster.

“I think we played well and had great energy tonight,” first-year Rampants head coach Joey McAlduff said. “We were moving the ball well, but just couldn’t find the back of the net. I thought we played as hard as we could, just unfortunate that it didn’t turn out the way we wanted.”

It was a hard-fought game from start to finish, as four players received yellow cards on the night. Connor Montanye, Sebastian Mora and Mannino were carded for the Vikings, while Jordan Taylor was put on the sheet for Rose.

The Vikings will face eight-seed Southern Lee on Saturday.

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

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