Concordia goalkeeper Garrett Werling kept returning to one word when discussing Tuesday's 4-3 victory over Bishop Dwenger, which the Cadets cemented in penalty kicks: stressful.
It didn't start out that way.
In the fourth minute of the match, Concordia's Samuel Aumick overtook a Bishop Dwenger defender trying to pass the ball back to his goalie, then beat that goalie to put the Cadets up 1-0.
“He unfortunately hasn't been able to play for two weeks because of quarantine, and for him to get that first goal right away was so fun for him,” Concordia coach Kevin Macke said. “He'd have a lot more goals already this year, but he had to sit out for four games.”
Just over five minutes later, Concordia's Elijah Macke juked the keeper then had an open shot, putting the Cadets ahead 2-0.
Halfway through the first half, Reese Anderson offered up a cross from the right side of the goal. A Bishop Dwenger defender jumped hoping to make contact with the ball but came up short, and it was Macke who got his head on it, coming up with a beautiful shot into the right side of the net. And just like that, Concordia was up 3-0.
“We were able to get a good, fast start, and I was trying to tell our guys that Dwenger wasn't going to give up,” Kevin Macke said. “They haven't been shut out all year. One of our goals was to shut them out, and they came back and made it a heck of a victory (for us).”
But with about 12 minutes to go in the first, the Saints swarmed in front of the net and junior forward Dominic Cruz got the final touch to cut the Cadets lead to 3-1. Then with nine minutes to go before halftime, senior defender Ryan Johnson scored off of a corner kick, sending the Saints into the locker room trailing just 3-2.
Cruz scored again 12 minutes into the second half to tie up the match.
And then the deluge of goals was suddenly turned off. Neither team managed to score a go-ahead goal in the final 28 minutes of regulation, and 14 minutes of overtime were just as fruitless.
The game then went into penalty kicks.
Concordia's Tim McDonough and Bishop Dwenger's Galo Guzhnay each had success by keeping their shots low.
On the second kick, Joe Gutman's was just a bit to high, almost getting stuck between the goal's crossbar and the crossbar of the football field goal just above it. Bishop Dwenger's Tyler Yaggy gave the Saints the lead as he punted the ball into the left side of the net, past a diving Werling.
Macke then made his penalty kick, as did Bishop Dwenger's George Getty. Aumick made his for Concordia, but then Johnson's bounced off the crossbar to leave the teams deadlocked once more.
Anderson sent his attempt wide for Concordia, and Lucas Ciocca's also bounced off the crossbar.
The deadlock was finally broken after the sixth PK attempts.
Concordia's Sam Brunow sneaked his attempt past the Bishop Dwenger keeper, but Werling was able to stop the final attempt by Bishop Dwenger, and he was soon engulfed by his teammates.
“I'm glad the guys were able to focus on our PK shootout after having some pretty tired legs,” Kevin Macke said. “I think all the guys who took shots played at least 80 minutes tonight.”
His save kept the undefeated season going for the Cadets, who are now 8-0.
Despite the final outcome, Bishop Dwenger coach Carlos Cruz told his team they showed remarkable resiliency and courage in fighting back.
“We played the right way, as well. That's something we pride ourselves on, connect the lines, circulate the ball,” Cruz said. “The three wins we had coming into this match gave us some momentum, but we only won 1-0 in each of those three matches, so we didn't have a lot of success finishing in the final third. ... And I think we were rather successful in doing that tonight.”