The Effingham County Rebels soccer team walked off the field forlornly and for a brief moment, the usually even-keeled Mike Baczynski buried his head in his hands.
The Rebels’ determined second-half comeback forced overtime, but Ware County’s Hunter Ingalls had his shootout try wobble into the net, giving the Gators a 4-3 win and ending the Rebels’ chances at the Region 3-AAAA playoffs.
“It was by far the best game they’ve played all year,” Baczynski said. “They really came together.”
The Gators led 3-0 after the first half, but the Rebels chipped away. Nik Figura got the comeback started with a goal, and Dmitri Hill scored on a breakaway to make it 3-2.
Getting that first goal gave the Rebels confidence they could come back, Baczynski said.
“Sometimes, it’s just getting over that hump,” he said. That’s what Ware County did. They got one and two more back-to-back.”
Joseph Arseneau knotted the game at 3-3, sending it to two scoreless overtimes and eventually to the penalty kick shootout.
“They came out hard in the second half,” Baczynski said of his team. “In the first half, I thought they controlled the possessions and had chances. They just weren’t finishing. They had all kinds of chances.”
In the shootout, the Rebels’ Willie Badger went first, but he missed high over the net. The teams traded goals after that. Zack Monteleone, Micah Jackson, Hill and Jonathan Slater scored for the Rebels and Kevin Putalia, Max Parada, Josh Thompson and Zach Griffin scored for the Gators before Ingalls’ winning attempt.