MURRAY — It took extra time and a pair of penalty kicks, but the Murray High Tigers pulled off a dramatic comeback victory 3-2 in the district tournament to end the Lakers season.
It was a thriller of a match with the Lakers jumping out to a 2-0 lead but the Tigers clawed their way back into it in the final 20 minutes and sent the contest into overtime. In the end, the Tigers found themselves on the winning side after a penalty kick was awarded in the second overtime period and Chase Renick scored his second such goal of the night.
The Lakers were 0-2 against the Tigers in the regular season but came out aggressive to start the elimination game. Early on they had control and eventually a lead after Jude Bazzell scored in the 23rd minute. Then, just a minute into the second half, the Lakers struck again. This time it was Dalton Puckett on the end of a corner kick and the Lakers had a commanding 2-0 lead and all of the momentum.
“I’ll be honest, the first half when they stuck that first one in, they were all over us,” Tigers head coach Jared Rosa said. “They had our number for sure. In the second half, they got the second one, and I didn’t switch a game plan or strategy so to speak, with about 25 minutes left to play the ‘on’ switch just happened. Then we started sorting things out.”
The first shift in the momentum came after a foul inside the box on Calloway that gave the Tigers a prime opportunity to cut the deficit in half. Renick calmly placed the ball into the corner and the score was 2-1.
As the clock wound down, the Lakers had their backs against the wall and the Tigers continued to press the attack. With just two minutes left to play, the Tigers finally broke through. Farris Jameel snuck a ball into the net off a corner kick and just like that the score was tied.
“It was a huge effort from our team tonight, physically and mentally they put everything they had into this game and I couldn’t be more proud,” Lakers head coach Evan Pierce said.
The fatigue was a factor as the Lakers fouled not once, but twice, inside the box with the second being the game-ender, however, the play that was made was exactly what Pierce expects his player to make in that situation.
“The first PK was just mental fatigue,” Pierce said. “We made a play on the ball that was probably unnecessary because we had another player in front of him and then the one down here (in overtime), Landon did everything that he could. He has to come out in that situation and it was just unfortunate that Trey got a touch on the ball. He may have caught part of Trey, but he’s got to come out for that. No fault to him for doing what he had to do to stop that.”
For the Tigers, Rosa knew the end result of continuous pressure would be one of two things.
“You get in behind a defense and they either have to foul you or let you go and that happened a couple of times,” Rosa said. “We felt like we could keep leaning a bit on them and we finally broke through.”
The Tigers will be back in action tonight as they face the Marshall County Marshals for a district championship at 8 p.m.