It wasn’t how Yogi Berra would put it when he said it was “deja vu all over again,” but the second meeting of the year on the soccer field between Belleville West and Althoff on Tuesday was pretty similar to the first one a little over three weeks ago but with a wild, strange and controversial ending this time.
Althoff senior Stephen Waltrip scored on a penalty kick with 26 seconds left in the second overtime period and the Crusaders dominated the penalty kick round as they scored a 3-2 win over the Maroons in a nonconference soccer game at GCS Ballpark.
Belleville West (2-6-1), which lost to Althoff 1-0 in the season-opening Metro Cup Soccer Tournament in a game decided in penalty kicks, had the better of the scoring chances throughout regulation Tuesday. And when Ryan Herling scored with just over three minutes left in the second overtime period, the Maroons seemed destined to even the season series with their city rivals.
But it wasn’t meant to be as after what referees called a foul in the box, Waltrip beat goalie James Wiegers with the game tying goal.
Althoff coach Skip Birdsong, who suffered a broken finger in his Crusaders coaching debut when Althoff beat Belleville West earlier in the season, left GCS Ballpark not only uninjured, but also elated his team rallied to win the game.
“We normally wouldn’t have been playing them (West) twice in a season had we not seen them in the (Metro Cup) Tournament. But what are the chances that both games are tied after regulation and then after two overtimes, and then are decided on penalty kicks. I would think they’re pretty remote,” Birdsong said. “I’ll say the same thing I said after we won the first time. We beat a very good Belleville West team tonight. This is a big win for our kids and this program.”
Waltrip’s goal not only tied the game at 2, but gave Althoff (5-3) all the momentum heading into penalty kicks. Jimmy Monken gave Althoff an early 1-0 in the penalty kick round and when the first two Maroons players were stopped, Althoff never looked back.
The Crusaders won the penalty kick round 4-1.
While Althoff won the game, the Maroons had the better scoring chances. After Althoff’s Mitchell Kidd scored at the 26-minute mark of the first half, the Maroons, after numerous shots had failed to reach their mark, tallied in the final seconds.
Taking a pass from Blake Williams, Max Oplt scored to tie the game at halftime.
Building on its momentum, West probably had the better scoring chances in the second half as well. But couldn’t take advantage until Herling’s goal gave it the lead with just over three minutes left in the second overtime.
“ I thought we had numerous scoring chances in the first half then it opened up even more in the second half,” West coach Rob Thornberry said. “We just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.”
Still West led 2-1 with under 30 seconds left. But when both Wiegers and an Althoff player ran towards the ball on the right side of the field, the two players collided. Both shaken, play was stopped and the Crusaders were awarded a penalty kick.
“It was a 50-50 ball and both players went after it,” Thornberry said. “I’ll say it was a ‘bold decision’ by the officials. Obviously the referees made a decision and we have to live with it.”
Birdsong, despite having the decision go his way, still wasn’t 100 percent sure on the call.
“Honestly and I was looking right at the play when it happened, I thought it was the right call,” Birdsong said. “I guess it’s one of those things where if I was on the other end, I would have felt differently. It was a tough call.”