TENNERTON – There was no shortage of drama between the Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneers and University Hawks in their Region 1, Section 2 semifinal clash Tuesday night at Ted Crites Memorial Field at Tom Hasbrouck Stadium.
The two teams battled to a 0-0 deadlock after 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime sessions failed to produce a goal as well.
That sent the game into penalty kicks to determine a winner where the Bucs advanced to the sectional title game after claiming the victory by a 4-2 margin in the shootout.
The Bucs were a perfect four-for-four in taking their penalty kicks with Noah Radabaugh, Caden Andrick, Christian Dowell and Julien Larcher connecting on them.
“Penalty kicks were the very last thing we worked on in practice yesterday,” noted Donato. “I give credit to our shooters. The guys stepped up and were confident in their shots.”
Also coming up big in the win was junior keeper Dalton Auvil.
Auvil, who missed the regular-season finale with an injury, was in top form turning away eight shots during regulation and overtime and came up huge in the shootout helping the Bucs to the victory.
“I give Dalton all the credit in the world,” stated Donato. “In his off-season workouts, getting better at defending penalty kicks was a big point of emphasis for him. We knew he came in much more confident this season in dealing with penalty kicks. I am very proud of how he played. It was a pressure-cooker situation for him.”
Auvil said he was confident heading into the nerve-wracking situation of the penalty kicks with the B-U season on the line.
“I knew it was a big spot and I delivered,” stated Auvil. “It’s all you can really do is to be confident and do your best. It helped that the team gave us the scores we needed in the shootout. It didn’t fall all on me in that regard.”
Auvil said he made the best of a bad situation missing the final game with an injury.
“It was nice getting a different perspective of the game being on the sideline,” noted Auvil. “Just getting to see everything and learning from that view point, but it was it was nice to come back tonight and deliver after that. University has some really good players and put some good shots on goal, but we played the best we could and it’s an awesome feeling to get the win.”
Donato said initially, he thought his Bucs could get a goal in regulation but as the game wore on felt that it might come down to a penalty kick situation.
“Watching the game unfold, honestly I thought we were going to get a goal,” stated Donato. “We were outshooting them and getting more quality chances. The first half is when we had our best chances and it’s when we were controlling possession. I thought at some point we would get one, but as the second half wore on I thought it might come down to penalty kicks.”
While the Bucs outshot University by a 16-8 margin, the Hawks almost stole the victory in the final seconds of the game with the ball bouncing around freely in the Bucs’ own end before they were finally able to make a clear.
“We made a mistake but our defense was able to bail us out in those final seconds,” remarked Donato. “We maybe had a little bit of luck on our side, but hopefully you capitalize on that break. We weren’t able to in regulation but we were able to be confident in the penalty kick portion of the game and came out with the win.”
The contest, which actually goes as a tie, left the Bucs with a 6-7-7 mark on the year and they will now travel to Bridgeport on Thursday for a sectional title game with the Indians starting at 8 p.m.
Bridgeport beat Preston by a 9-0 score in their sectional opener Tuesday and currently own a 12-6-1 record.
The Indians beat the Bucs by a 3-1 score during the regular season.
“It never gets old advancing to the sectional championship game,” concluded Donato. “I get excited every time we get there. To go up to Bridgeport on Thursday and get them in a rematch, it is a great opportunity for us. We made two pivotal mistakes on a couple of set pieces in the regular-season loss to them, but to get to go to their place with a chance for us to advance to the regionals — our guys our going to be confident and ready to go.”
University 0 0 0 0 – 0
Buckhannon-Upshur 0 0 0 0 – 0
Shots-on-goal – University 8; Buckhannon-Upshur 16.
Corner kicks – University 1; Buckhannon-Upshur 1.
Fouls – University 5; Buckhannon-Upshur 1.
Saves – University: Connor Montgomery 16; Buckhannon-Upshur: Dalton Auvil 8.