Robin Crain calls them his “super sophs,” the only two underclassmen on the Ferris boys soccer team.
Too young, apparently, to feel the burden of Wednesday night’s big match – under the lights, no less – at Central Valley.
But there they were in the drama of a penalty-kick shootout, emergency goalkeeper Eric Hollenbaugh guessing right with a big save, and Callan Martin driving home the winner in a crucial 1-0 Greater Spokane League win over the Bears.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking, knowing that you have to make it to win,” said Martin, whose kick helped keep the defending league champion Saxons (9-0, 4-0 GSL) tied for first place with Mt. Spokane and Lewis and Clark, and at the same time avenge a shootout loss to CV last year.
“It feels great to win, but we just have to keep pushing, striving to be the best,” Martin said.
That’s what Hollenbaugh was doing in the first half: pushing toward goal in his usual role as forward against a stubborn CV defense – until disaster struck.
In the waning moments of the first half, Ferris keeper Filipp Churkin took a knee to the jaw and couldn’t continue.
Hollenbaugh was told earlier this year that he could be the Saxons emergency keeper – he’s played the position before.
“But I didn’t expect it to happen,” he said.
Hollenbaugh gained confidence as Ferris dominated time of possession but failed to convert two golden chances early in the second half.
But a young CV team, with just three seniors in its lineup – Ferris has 11 – began to assert itself late in the game and had several chances to win.
“CV fought hard. It was a great match,” Crain said.
The Bears (6-2, 2-2) had the better of it in the two 5-minute overtimes and showed confidence as the shootout began in front of about 200 fans.
Hollenbaugh blocked the first CV penalty shot, but Enzler did the same. Both teams made their next three shots, setting up a dramatic fifth round.
As the Bears’ J.D. Hauenstein stepped up to the penalty spot, the mind games began between two players who’ve known each other for years.
“He lined up like he was going to go to (Hollenbaugh’s) left, but I thought he was trying to fake me out,” Hollenbaugh said.
So Hollenbaugh decided to move to his right and contacted the rising ball with both hands and pushed it over the crossbar.
“So it worked out,” said Hollenbaugh, who 2 minutes later saw Martin hit the winner.