Thomas' penalty kick ends booters' season

Suzanne Yohannan
Date Published: 
Daily Collegian

After 120 minutes of intense play, yesterday's soccer game came down to a one-on-one contest between Lion goalie Mike Imm and Howard's Chris Thomas.

Howard survived the pressure best when Thomas booted the ball past Imm. He scored the Bison's third penalty kick in the five penalty kick shootout given to each team to break the 1-1 overtime tie.

"During the past three seasons, we've been in this position about four times," Thomas said. "It's nothing new to us. We're used to the situation and I've kicked in all those past four occasions. I was Just concentrating on what I had to do . . . to kick it hard enough."

After double overtime play, Howard and Penn State were given five one-on-one penalty kicks in a shootout. Whoever scored the most goals on those kicks won the game and moved on to the second round of NCAA play. Penn State's five players managed two goals, while four of Howard's players scored two, which left the Bison's fifth shooter, Thomas, to break the tie.

"It's a pressure situation," Coach Barry Gorman said. "It's a one-on-one. You're going to have someone successful and you're going to have someone deflated."

The shootout placed the pressure on both goalies. The Lions' freshman goalie Imm was playing in his first NCAA tournament game, while Howard's sophomore goalie Shaka Hislop had experience to his advantage.

After Howard lost in the finals of the NCAA tournament last year, Hislop was named Co-Most Valuable Defensive Player. Hislop has recorded 11 shutouts and allowed only nine goals in 18 games this season. He had a .45 goals against average going into the game.

Imm came into the season late. Replacing sophomore Kurt Merrill in the goalie box, he has allowed 12 goals in 10 games. Before the game he had a 1.19 goals against average.

Both Imm and Hislop, however, only managed one stop each in the shootout. Imm let three of the shots past him and the Bison's first one-on-one shot never made it near the cage area for Imm to defend.

"Their goalkeeper (Imm) made some fine saves," Hislop said.

"It's lousy way to decide a ballgame," Gorman said of the shootout. "But, they have to have a decision made and you look for the kids who have the most confidence to go up and kick it (the penalty kicks). Their keeper did well. We had a couple that didn't hit the goal."

Lion forward Jan Skorpen took the first penalty kick in the shootout. But, Hislop did not need to make a save when the kick swerved wide to the left of the cage. The Bison's first penalty shot by Harold Heath also missed the goal area.

Scoring the Lions' first goal in the shootout, midfielder Danny Kelly drove the ball straight down the middle of the goal area into the cage, past Hislop. The Lions' Ted Gillen, on the Lions' third kick, aimed the ball for the left side of the cage. Hislop knocked the ball away, though.

"I was Just trying to see what side the kicker was going to," Hislop said of his strategy in the shootout. "and trying to look at his eyes."

He later added, "I think I had a good game under pressure."

After Howard's Anthony Laird and Mike Williams scored on their two penalty kicks, the Lions were down by one penalty kick. On their last penalty kick, the Lions, once again, saw hope of winning the game, when forward Steve Frantz kicked the ball into the left side of the goal and evened the shots kicked in to 3-2.

If the shootout had ended in a tie, the game would have been decided by a sudden death shootout -- the first team to score a goal in the one-on-one format would win.