Most goalies try to catch a ball representing the tying goal heading for their net. Evans Knights goalkeeper Joey Ralph chose an uppercut.
It worked, and the Knights beat Roswell 1-0 on Tuesday.
With five seconds left in a first-round state playoff soccer match at Blanchard Stadium, Roswell Hornets striker Jay Stewart sent a rainbow shot over a wall of Evans defenders.
Seeing the ball arching down, Ralph positioned himself underneath it and waited until it fell just below the cross bar. He then leaped skyward and punched it straight up and out of bounds.
"I didn't want to take a chance on catching the ball and dropping it," the junior said. "I just wanted to get out of play as fast as I could."
Ralph's quick thinking secured Evans a spot in the second round of state AAAAA soccer playoffs and gave the Knights their first-ever win against a top-10 team.
Despite heading into the match as Region 7-AAAAA champs, most considered the Knights underdogs against the ninth-ranked Hornets.
"This is a great confidence-building win for us," Evans coach Brian Killips said. "We just beat a team that can beat any team in the state, which means we can beat any team in the state."
The only score in the match came early in the second period, when Evans striker Allen Ligon snuck the ball past Roswell goalkeeper Josh Angelucci off a Drew Hess pass.
Evans plays at home again Monday against Kennesaw Mountain.
"I told my guys to enjoy the next few hours, because tomorrow we're going to be practicing and getting ready," Killips said. "Now that we've made it this far, I don't think they've ever wanted to practice so much in their life."
Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 109, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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