After 90 scoreless minutes, the third meeting of the crosstown rivals needed penalty kicks to determine who would travel to Huntsville on Friday for the AHSAA state championship semifinal. Goalkeeper Luke Keown dove low to his right to stop Mountain Brook’s second attempt in the shootout, giving the Patriots an advantage before senior Jacob Sitton struck decisively to send Homewood through 5-3 on penalty kicks.
Bryan Sokell, Gage Estep, captain Hardy Smith and Sam Malone also scored penalty kicks for the Patriots before Sitton’s kick blew the roof off the packed home side of Waldrop Stadium. The tense encounter saw few concrete chances to score for either team, although Homewood came close to scoring early in the second half when Sokell’s quickly taken shot hit off the post. Otherwise, Spartan goalkeeper Reed Harradine was resolute throughout the game, snatching Homewood’s crossed attempts and launching his team into threatening counterattacks. Mountain Brook ramped up in the pressure afterwards and forced the Patriots’ defense to be at its best to make it to overtime.
The first five-minute period flew by uneventfully until Homewood had a pass picked off by sophomore Spartan Jack Heaps who put the ball on his right foot before blasting a shot that narrowly missed the top corner. Keown took command of his penalty area and stifled a barrage of Mountain Brook crosses to see the game out into the dreaded penalty shootout.
The spirited home crowd provided a platform for success, however, as the student body showed up in strong numbers and full voice. Thumping base drums and coordinated chants were the soundtrack for the evening and propelled the Patriots forward in a contest where both teams pushed each other to the brink.
Thursday night the girls varsity soccer team also felled their area rivalry, Chelsea, 3-0 to book their own ticket to the semifinals. The girls piled on early pressure forcing Chelsea to defend deep. Finally, midway through the half Sunny Ferren broke the deadlock with a blasted effort from the top of the box.
In the second half, Ferren outdid her first goal, sensationally chipping the Chelsea goalkeeper from 30 yards out to double Homewood’s lead before a towering Ana Harbin header made it three late on and effectively killed off the game.
The girls will play at 9 a.m. Friday and the boys at 11 a.m. Both games will take place at John Hunt Soccer Complex in Huntsville.