STORY BY MITCHELL STEPHENSON | PHOTOS BY WHITNEY JARRELD
The Ravenwood Raptors showed heart and determination, as they defeated Independence 7-3 in electric fashion to advance to the District 11-AAA soccer Championship.
Independence never trailed in regulation. Sean Spolerini, who scored all of Indepences goals, gave his team the lead early in the first half.
The Raptors fought off several scoring attempts, and were able to score a goal under three minutes left in the half when Nick Dang got in a shot to tie the score, 1-1.
In the second half Spolerini scored midway through the half to give what seemed to be a game-winning score to Independence in the defensive battle, 2-1.
But the Raptors fought back and Dang scored again at just over 10 minutes left in the game, making it 2-2. With just five minutes remaining in the contest Spolerini scored again to make it 3-2.
But Dang matched Spolerini with a third goal of his own with a minute to go, sending the contest to overtime.
In overtime there are two 10-minute periods that are played out.
In the first overtime period Dang gave the Raptors their first lead off of a penalty kick, making it 4-3 Raptors.
The momentum seemed to completely change from this point as Ravenwood’s team was fired up from what seemed like a sure defeat in regulation, and Independence seemed aware that a golden opportunity was slipping through their fingers.
Then matters got worse for Independence, and better for Ravenwood as Dang scored his fifth goal off of a free kick giving Ravenwood a 5-3 lead. The goal energized the Raptors, and their fans even more, and seemed to deflate Independence.
The game was full of penalties from both sides, but in the end it was Independence who suffered the most as they played with only nine players throughout most of the over time.
In the second over time period Raptor Jaydon Chisolm scored, as well as Sisay Putty, to make the final score 7-3 Ravenwood.
Raptors coach Adam Harris gave his thoughts on his team’s victory.
“Independence went down a couple of men and that made it easy for us to finish the game out,” he said. “But when we were down 3-2, not a single one of our players gave up, and that’s a testament to them. ”
Ravenwood will play their biggest rival Brentwood in the District 11-AAA finals Thursday night.