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Widefield tops Valor Christian with overtime goal
Jared Foulk wasn’t about to let his chance at redemption slip away.
Minutes after missing a likely game-winning header, the Widefield senior co-captain took a pass from Brandon Toves and tapped it past diving Valor Christian goalie Connor Georgopulos to give the No. 16 Gladiators a 1-0 overtime win over 17th-seeded Valor Christian in the opening round of the 4A boys’ soccer state tournament Thursday night. Foulk’s game-winner came with 7:25 remaining in the first overtime period, just less than 4 minutes after his header from point-blank range sailed over the Valor Christian net.
It looked as if the missed opportunity would spell doom for the host Gladiators (13-2-1), as the Eagles’ Colten Corey was awarded a penalty shot with 10:31 remaining in overtime. Corey’s shot struck the right post, however, with the ball ricocheting out of range and Widefield defenders clearing it away.
His eyes welling up with tears of joy as snow flurries began wafting down through the bitterly frigid night air, Foulk was nearly speechless after sending his team to the second round of the state tournament.
“I can’t even explain my emotions, quite truthfully,” said Foulk, one of 12 Widefield seniors. “I’m just ridiculously happy we were the ones who got the ball in the goal, especially after the PK off the post and the header I missed. It’s been four years since we’d been to the playoffs, and now we’re going past the first round.”
The Gladiators rejoiced and mobbed Foulk and Toves — the team’s leading scorer who had been double-teamed most of the night — as Valor Christian players sat dejected on the field.
“It was a very tough game from beginning to end,” Widefield coach Karl Anderson said. “Valor Christian is a great team and played very well. I’ve got to give it up to our boys, because they did a great job.
“I can’t ask for anything more, and I’m so proud.”
Valor Christian (8-6-2) had numerous scoring chances, but Widefield goalie Tre Taylor made clutch saves, and several of the Eagles’ shots sailed wide of the Gladiators’ net. Taylor made key saves 19:35 into the second half and with 12 minutes remaining to keep the game scoreless in regulation.
Corey, Valor Christian’s leading scorer, was constantly around the Gladiators’ net, but was unable to capitalize on his opportunities. He missed a point-blank shot with an open Widefield net with 6:46 remaining in the first half, had Taylor get just enough of one of his shots to send it wide 9:54 into the second half and sent a header wide right of the net 36 seconds later.
It was a frustrating night for the Eagles, who were the only team to beat No. 1 Palmer Ridge during the regular season.
“I felt like, from halftime on, we controlled the play and gave ourselves opportunities to win,” Valor Christian coach Brian Shultz said. “Sometimes things don’t go your way, and the credit goes to Widefield. They stayed with their game, got the one opportunity in overtime and put it away.”