Joel Sterling had never been in this position before. So it’s easy to see why the Blue Springs South senior forward was a bit nervous as he walked up to the spot Monday night.
Sterling had the fifth penalty kick for the Jaguars, the one that could seal the victory after 90 minutes of soccer against rival Blue Springs. And yes, there were a few butterflies.
“It was pretty nerve-racking,” Sterling said. “But the support of my team helped me out.”
Sterling looked calm and collected as he fired the ball to the right side of the net to begin the celebration. Blue Springs South, which had lost twice before to Blue Springs this season, escaped with a 5-3 margin on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw on a blustery night at Peve Stadium in Blue Springs.
Sterling’s PK ended a back-and-forth Suburban Big Six affair in which both teams benefited from a stiff southwest wind. Blue Springs South (7-9, 2-6 Big Six) outshot Blue Springs (11-8, 2-5) 8-1 when it had the wind in the first half; the Wildcats had an 8-3 advantage in the second half.
And while Blue Springs South never trailed after going up 1-0 in the first half, the Jaguars could never shake off the Wildcats.
“The elements tonight certainly played a role,” Blue Springs South coach Jon Grice said. “But we knew it was going to be a fight, and we were finally able to put together a full game against those guys and make it count.”
Blue Springs South, even as it was creating more opportunities early, still couldn’t get on the board until Dylan Shuker knocked in a point-blank shot with an assist from Jacksyn McIntyre in the 48th minute.
Senior midfielder Carlos Llamas got the equalizer for Blue Springs in the 51st minute with an assist from Dom Zubeck. The Jaguars went back on top when Dalton Prater redirected a rebound off a corner kick 10 minutes later.
Blue Springs South held that lead until the 75th minute, when Llamas blasted in a free kick from 10 yards outside the 18-yard box.
“It was just back and forth,” Sterling said. “Both teams were working hard.”
And both teams had a chance to win it in overtime. Blue Springs goalkeeper Max Hays barely kept Bradyn McIntyre’s shot off a corner kick out of the net in the first overtime; the Wildcats’ Matthew Martinez was just wide left on a breakaway in the second.
“In the first overtime, we were just trying to defend for our life with that wind at our back,” Blue Springs coach Mike Palermo said. “We were trying to push the second one so we could flip it and get some balls going forward.”
Shuker took Blue Springs South’s first penalty kick and started a string of five straight for the Jaguars. Martinez had the Wildcats’ first PK, and he sailed it wide.
Jacksyn McIntyre, Bradyn McIntyre and Prater made their PKs for the Jaguars, setting up Sterling’s dramatic moment.
“If (Sterling) was nervous, he didn’t show it a lot,” Grice said. “You need seniors that can set it up and take care of business and put the team on their back. And Joel did that.”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Blue Springs and prevented the Wildcats from sweeping the Jaguars. Blue Springs beat Blue Springs South 4-2 Sept. 5 in the Raytown South Tournament and 3-2 Sept. 25 at Blue Springs South.
“We wanted the sweep but it’s hard to beat a team three times,” Palermo said. “What a fun game. I told our guys don’t have your heads down because you took them as far as you could. It was just a fun crosstown rivalry game.