With the score deadlocked and the clock inching ever closer to zeroes, Veterans boys soccer head coach Matt Roth began putting his penalty kick lineup together.
That was when Casey Zwitch sent a long shot into the penalty box that caromed off Howard goalkeeper Chris Jacksons hands. Sean Joiner was there to capitalize on the loose ball, putting it away for a lead in the 78th minute Friday at the Bibb County Sports Complex.
A minute later, Zwitch parlayed a penalty kick into the top left corner of the goal past an outstretched Jackson, and the Warhawks celebrated the GHSA Region 2-AAA championship with a 4-2 victory.
I felt like we had the momentum in the last few minutes, Roth said. I hoped we would capitalize, and we did.
Zwitch scored twice in what he called the most intense game his team has played all year.
For Howard (14-2, 7-1 region), it was a cruel ending to a hard-fought contest.
the soccer gods can be unfair at times, Howard head coach Vegas McCain said. Its just the way it is.
I still think were the better team.
The Huskies had chances in the second half.
Kioki Hutchings was tripped in the 51st minute to set up a penalty kick. Micah Arrington, however, sailed his shot wide right.
Fifteen minutes later, Edgardo Castro was tackled hard, setting up a free kick from 25 yards out. Hutchings effort, however, landed safely in Veterans goalkeeper Ben Albrittons hands.
Veterans (15-1-1, 9-0) opened the scoring when Cody Scarborough centered the ball from the right wing to DJ Garrett, who headed it into the right corner of the goal in the eighth minute for a 1-0 lead.
Howard, who had a goal waved off due to an offside call, answered in the 22nd minute when Hutchings scored his 26th goal of the season with an assist from Jorge Hernandez.
The Huskies took a 2-1 lead after David Gomez nimbly weaved into Warhawks territory before dumping the ball off to Hernandez, who volleyed the ball into the top shelf of the goal in the 32nd minute.
Hernandez was later sidelined with a hamstring injury. He was joined on the bench in the second half by Jordan Wynn and Castro, who both left with injuries.
Veterans knotted the score on a free kick. Zwitchs powerful shot from 25 yards out went through the hands of Jackson three minutes before halftime.
most times, I cant make that shot, Zwitch said. I guess the game just brought it out in me.