After 100 minutes of soccer on a bone-chilling Tuesday night, William Chrisman goalkeeper Javier Merino had one more job to do.
Merino had been brilliant in goal all night for Chrisman, a big reason why the Bears and Fort Osage were exchanging penalty kicks in 30-degree weather and spitting snow. And when the Bears’ fifth and final turn came, it was Merino who went to the spot.
Merino’s kick landed in the lower left corner of the net, just out of the reach of his Fort Osage counterpart. It gave Chrisman a 3-2 victory on penalty kicks after the two battled to a 1-1 tie in regulation at Fort Osage.
Though Merino seemed oddly out of place facing the goal, this was nothing new for him. It’s by design that the sophomore is the Bears’ anchorman on penalty kicks.
“I shoot a couple of penalties when we have practice,” Merino said. “They shoot penalties on me, I shoot penalties on them because I’m one of the five that has to shoot.”
Fort Osage (3-17, 2-9 Suburban Middle Seven) started the shootout with a kick by Colby McDowell that just eluded Merino. But Merino stopped the Indians’ next two attempts, diving left to swallow a shot by Angel Cornejo and batting away Dylan Stillwell’s shot to the right corner.
Chrisman, meanwhile, took a 2-1 lead on shots by Tanner Jolley and Mitchell Cory. Lucca Smith tied it 2-2 on Fort Osage’s next attempt, and Indians goalkeeper Riley Rexford smothered Joseph Casebolt’s shot.
Justin Epperson had the last shot for Fort Osage, but he couldn’t get it past a diving Merino. Soon, Merino would face the goal with the game on the line. And he was ready.
“This whole month we usually try to make sure we have at least one or two practices where we’re hitting some type of PKs just to give Javy some experience,” Chrisman coach John Straub said. “Javier has very good foot skills and he’s a very confident shooter. And he showed that with his shot today.”
Merino’s confidence showed in the net during regulation as he recorded nine saves and a solid defense for the Bears. The Indians outshot the Bears 10-7 in a back-and-forth defensive struggle.
Chrisman (7-13, 5-6) didn’t have a shot until the 21st minute, but it produced the game’s first goal – a poke in front of the net by freshman midfielder Mitchell Cory off a cross from Martin Villa.
Stillwell equalized for Fort Osage in the 65th minute, catching Merino off his line for an open shot on a breakaway. After two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods, the two teams lined up for penalty kicks.
“Going to the PKs, we had it in our mind we have to win this game,” Merino said. “We didn’t go this far just to go to PKs just to lose.”
Chrisman, which took two wins over Fort Osage this season, concludes its regular season Thursday at Ruskin. Fort Osage plays at Oak Park Thursday.