In the biggest game of the year, the Southridge boys’ soccer team’s season-long shortcoming cost them a ticket to the 6A state playoffs.

Getting off shots from all over the pitch and grazing rockets off the goal, the Skyhawks gave themselves plenty of chances to bounce Barlow in Tuesday’s 6A “Play-In” game. In fact, Southridge outshot Barlow 14-6, and controlled the lion’s share of the time of possesion.

Yet, when it came time to putting the ball in the net, Southridge was snakebit. Midfielder David Peterson’s goal in the first half was the Skyhawks’ only score of the game. Barlow converted its scoring opening in the second half on a 25-yard free kick to tie the contest 1-1.

The Bruins pushed the game to overtime, then penalty kicks where they won 2-1 (4-3 on penalty kicks). It was a game Southridge ruled from the opening minute, when the Skyhawks put three shots on frame. However, they couldn’t find the cotton even though Peterson, senior forwards Matt Kimball, Jamal Safadi and Andrew Agnesse sure bent over backwards trying to take Southridge into the round of 32.

“Personally, I felt like we were the stronger team,” said Agnesse. “We had more cohesive play throughout the game, more balls won. But, today we just didn’t pull through in the end. We let the free kick get in, and the rest of the game, we just couldn’t put our chances away.”

“We had our chances, and they just came out on top,” added defender Nic Piwonka. “We’ll come back even stronger next year. You can’t ever back down, and I don’t think we did. I think we played through, but you have to give major credit to them. They rallied through.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge forward Jamal Safadi drops a pass off to a teammate in Skyhawk territory during Southridges penalty kick loss to Barlow on Tuesday.

Senior defender Evan Leenderste said the Skyhawks had difficulty converting chances all season including a game where Southridge put up 25 shots, but scored no goals. Meanwhile, their opponent only managed three shots, but scored twice.

“It was an every game thing for us,” said Leenderste. “It’s nice to see us creating chances. It’s disappointing that we just can’t finish. We came into the game thinking we should’ve won. I think we should’ve won. It’s really tough losing to a team that you think you should’ve beat. It’s disappointing I had to end my soccer career in such a bad way. I wish we could’ve done better, finished better.”

Piwonka said Southridge’s passing throughout the game was excellent and led to wide open opportunities around and near the net. When it came to putting the ball away in the final third of the pitch, Southridge simply couldn’t capitalize. Three of Southridge’s shots hit the left or right post or the crossbar, leaving them empty handed.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge defender Scott Lantz and forward David Peterson celebrate Petersons first half goal that gave the Skyhawks a 1-0 lead.

In penalty kicks, Southridge goalie Pedro Simonetti blocked Barlow’s first shot, but the Bruins scored on the succeeding four shots. The Skyhawks first PK hit the right post, and Barlow saved Southridge’s fifth and final attempt for the win.

Agnesse — one of eight Southridge seniors whose careers ended — said the game shouldn’t have come down to overtime or sudden death penalty kicks. The way in which the Skyhawks attacked Barlow on offense and determined the flow of the game, the forward felt Southridge should’ve sashayed to success.

“We had good buildup play, we just needed to score in the last fourth of the field,” said Agnesse. “We let a goal go in, but it shouldn’t have really mattered in the end with all the shots we had on goal. Today just didn’t work out.”

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