HARVARD – Sliding a piece of paper between Harvard and Woodstock North might be difficult, the Kishwaukee River Conference’s top soccer teams appear to be that even.
They hooked up Monday in a game that provided a little bit of everything and ended with a thriling penalty-kick shootout, just as their two matches ended in the 2021 spring season.
Harvard’s fifth shooter, David Aquino drilled his shot into the net and the Hornets ran onto the field to celebrate a 3-2 victory over the Thunder at Harvard Middle School. It gave Harvard a 5-3 advanatage with one North shooter remaining, ending the match.
“We expected Woodstock North to come in hard and give it their all, same as us,” Hornets midfielder Oger Bernal said. “Our second half was much better. We started with two goals, and we were good. Unforunately, we got scored on twice and had to go to PKs.”
Harvard (6-4, 3-0 KRC) is quite familiar with shootouts, having gone to seven of them in its 12-match spring season. North is 5-6, 3-1.
“The key is having confidence it’s going to go in,” Bernal said. “We scored on our five PKs, that’s very important.”
Harvard goalkeeper Yahir Salcedo dived to his right on North’s Nibret Freundl, the second shooter, and got a fingertip on the shot that hit the left post.
“It feels good. It was a tough game,” Hornets forward Juan Silva said. “They fought and we fought, too. I’m looking forward to what happens later in the season.”
Harvard took the lead when defender Brayan Mendoza blasted a shot from 55 yards that took a big hop over Thunder keeper Enrique Castaneda in the 48th minute. Five minutes laster, Gabino Esquivel sent a corner kick into the box that Silva headed inside the left post for a 2-0 lead.
With 15 minutes remaining, North’s Jacob Hernandez headed a ball in off Eloy Bernal’s corner kick. Bernal then tied the score with 4:59 remaining on a penalty kick.
“It was disappointing the way we defended that corner kick on the first post. That shouldn’t happen,” Hornets coach Victor Gonzalez said. “But [North] responded well. They really pressured us and tied it up.”
Thunder coach John Sullivan was frustrated at his team having to play from behind for a third consecutive game.
“We have to stop digging these 2-0 holes. We have to play with a lead rather than from behind for huge chunks of the game,” Sullivan said. “This team is never out of it. It doesn’t matter how many they put on the board. This team never stops fighting and attacking and trying to win games.”
Oger Bernal, Saul Sanchez, Giovanni Mercado, Alexis Gonzalez and Aquino all made their shootout shots for the Hornets. Guillermo Ramirez Nova, Jesus Diaz and Eloy Bernal made their shots for the Thunder.
Harvard was 3-4 in shootouts in the spring season.
“I loved them as a player,” Gonzalez said, with a smile. “I hate them as a coach.”
Harvard 3, Woodstock North 2 (OT)
Woodstock North 0 2 (3) – 2
Harvard 0 2 (5) – 3
H–Silva (Esquivel), 27:20.
WN–Hernandez (Bernal), 15:10.
Goalkeeper saves: Castaneda (WN) 3, Salcedo (H) 4.