COLUMBIA — It was 2 hours, 37 minutes after the initial kickoff Monday night. The chill of the night settled in through a scoreless regulation and through two scoreless 10-minute overtimes. The Kewpies boys soccer team kicked off on LeMone Field against Smith-Cotton when there was still daylight.
It was 9:03 p.m. when junior Christian Smith booted in Hickman's fifth penalty kick to secure the win. Hickman won 4-3 in penalty kicks in a game that was scoreless to that point. It was Hickman's first home victory.
"We haven't been in an overtime game all season. We haven't taken PK's all season," Hickman coach Adam Taylor said. "When you get closer to districts, you want to have a live situation where you go through that."
Against district foe Smith-Cotton (9-4), the win carried more importance for the Kewpies (8-4-1), three weeks away from district play.
The win did not come easy. Smith and his teammates took the field at 6:26 p.m. When his penalty kick goal finally took them off of it, they all ran to him and celebrated by jumping around him.
"I'm not really an emotional person," Smith said, "but it felt good to have all my teammates around me."
Hickman missed all 14 of its shots on goal before the penalty kick period. The team then watched the period in a line with their arms hung over each other. Its final expense of energy was spent sprinting to Smith.
"When he made it, it was definitely a relief," said senior captain Carter Cox, who played every second of the match.
Hickman goalie Jacob Gunn, a freshman, said he hadn't played in a penalty kick period since a year ago with his club team. This was his first experience in high school.
Smith-Cotton scored on its first attempt.
The next one, he dove to his left and deflected. He shot up and gave a fist pump.
"You want a kid to go out there thinking he can make every save," Taylor said. "I think Jacob felt like that."
That Gunn save proved important when Hickman missed its fourth try. The penalty kick period was even at three goals heading to each team's final shooter of the first round.
Smith stepped up for his try.
"It was awesome," he said. "I don't know how else to describe it."
Taylor said the win provided a lesson the team needed.
"We learned we're gonna have some ups and we're gonna have some downs but to play through it, to keep trusting the system and keep trusting each other," Taylor said. "That's what we learned. If you keep grinding, success will come."
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