A penalty kick by Thompson Pitman midway through the first half accounted for the lone goal in a gritty 1-0 victory for Providence Christian over Houston Academy in boys soccer action on Thursday night.
The play that ultimately saved the game for the Eagles came with 34 minutes remaining.
Houston Academyâs Henry Beckett came rushing down the left side of the field and sent a beautiful pass to Porter Mitchell, who was set up in front of the goal.
Mitchell got off a blistering shot, but Providence goalkeeper Garrison Wise was able to get his right knee in front to deflect the ball out of play.
âI just saw him (Mitchell) get the ball and he made an excellent strike, but I got down quick and got to it,â Wise said. âIt was a great shot. I respect HA. They played tough tonight.â
With the home victory, Providence Christian finishes runner-up in the area to Montgomery Academy and advances to the state playoffs next week. The Eagles beat HA in the other meeting between the two this season when Providence rallied late to tie it at 2-2 and then won in a shootout.
Earlier Thursday, the Houston Academy girls shut out Providence 2-0 to clinch a berth in the playoffs, also as a runner-up to Montgomery Academy.
In the boys game, the lone goal off the penalty kick came after HA goalkeeper Jamie Glasgow and the Eaglesâ Ty Nemish collided going after a loose ball. It was ruled Glasgow initiated the contact and he was given a yellow card.
Pitman then sent the PK shot high into the right corner of the net against backup goalkeeper Eric Mendez, who came in when Glasgow had to exit the field due to the foul.
Houston Academy coach Magnus Stjernstrom disagreed with the call and believes a foul could have been signaled in the second half when he felt one of his players was taken down.
âWhat I saw was my goalie stops the ball and the ball moves away,â Stjernstrom said of the yellow card that brought about the penalty kick. âThe goalie is trying to get the ball a second time and he gets run over. He gets actually kicked in the head by the forward, and the forward falls after he knees him in the head.
âTo me, thatâs a goalkeeper free kick, not a PK and a yellow card on our goalkeeper. He (official) said that my goalkeeper took out the forward, but to me it was the other way.
âI think overall it was a fair game. It went both ways tackling here and there. There were a couple of calls I didnât like. In the second half, one of my players gets completely taken out in the box and thereâs no call.â
Providence coach Earl Pitman realized the call could have gone either way.
âFrom my view, the Houston Academy keeper came out, knocked the ball towards the side and my player and the keeper were going for the ball,â Pitman said. âI really think the unfortunate thing was the ball was on the other side of my player and the keeper just went into him going for the ball. I guess technically itâs a foul if you donât get the ball.â
The Eagles lost one of their top offensive players, Charles Estes, in the opening minutes of the game when Raidersâ defender Cameron Kilgore got off a kick that hit Estes square in an eye. Estes exited the game and didnât return.
But the Providence defense was the story of the game in holding off a Houston Academy scoring attack that can be strong at times.
Both Providence and HA did miss on some good scoring opportunities. Late in the first half, Glasgow made a great save on a shot by Jacob Howard. Mitchell just missed to the left on the goal on a low shot in the first five minutes of the second half.
âThe defense has seemed to all year step up and weâve tried to build off that defense to create scoring opportunities, which weâve had trouble doing just about the whole season,â Pitman said. âA game like this, one or two plays is going to be the difference.â
—- Dothan Eagle