Sanderson’s Scott Spickard walked alone calmly off the Panther Creek field. You’d never know he was the hero of a 2-1 playoff win until he reached the gate to the parking lot with fans awaiting him.
First, two females classmates screamed and jumped into his arms. Then adults approached with hugs. He was the man of the moment with his dramatic game-winning sudden death goal.
Spickard’s tally with 45 seconds remaining in the first golden goal period lifted the Spartans to a 2-1 win over Panther Creek Saturday night in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs.
The five-minute, sudden-death period followed two 10-minutes periods when play had ended 1-1 in regulation.
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“When I saw it come to my feet, I just tried to do anything to get into goal,” said Spickard, a senior.
The temperature had dipped to 47 degrees after a 7 p.m. start and nearly 105 minutes of soccer before Spickard sent everyone home.
“Scott Spickard,” said Sanderson coach Todd Worley, “that took a lot of poise in sudden death to put in in the back of the net.”
Sanderson (14-5-3), the third-place team in the Cap 8, and Panther Creek (15-6-0), the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference runner-up, was a tough first-round matchup. Both conferences are traditionally deep with talented teams.
Sanderson also won despite playing a man down for a red card the final 8:42 of regulation as well as the three overtime periods.
“We did a lot stupid things with the yellow cards and that’s what I’m disappointed in,” said Worley, “but our effort was there the entire night.”
It was disappointing end, but it was a turnaround season for the Catamounts. They missed the 2015 playoffs with an 8-10-2 record.
“We played well enough to win, but we didn’t finish,” said Panther Creek coach Chad Sichak. “It was a great season, and I’m proud of them. We thought we had a chance to make a deep run this year, but it didn’t happen.”
Panther Creek had a opportunity to win on a penalty with 2:11 to play in regulation, but Sanderson junior goalie Dalton Tippette made a diving save to his right.
16th minute: Sanderson senior Brady Lozaw scored from in front of the net on an assist from junior Joey Daly.
Halftime: Sanderson 1, Panther Creek 0
47th minute: Panther Creek sophomore Noe Varner scored on a play that began with a left-to-right cross from junior Parker Cross that senior Tyler Kizer headed back to the middle to Varner.
105th minute: Scott Spickard scored on assist from Reynolds Seaton off a corner from Lozaw.
THEY SAID IT
“It was tough (playing a man down). I thought we played together and hung together as a team. That’s what we always talk about; whatever adversity we face, it’s about playing as a team.” – Scott Spickard.