MARYVILLE — In just two years the Metro East Lutheran Knights and Father McGivney Griffins boys' soccer teams have built a tough and lasting rivalry.
The Knights claimed bragging rights over Father McGivney in 2015 with a 4-0 win, but the Griffins returned the favor Thursday night with a 3-2 win after double overtime and second round penalty kicks.
Father McGivney improved to 9-4-4 with the win, while Metro fell to 5-9-1 after the loss in the cold and rainy non-conference matchup.
Derek Shearer of the Griffins scored the game-winning penalty kick and leading scorer Eli Skubish tallied two second-half goals and handled the goalie duties in PKs for the win. Skubish raised his team-leading goal tally to 23 in the win.
"It's difficult to transition to the box after playing hard offense for 80 minutes, but that was what I was called in to do," Skubish said. "I feel fortunate that I'm able to be versatile like that. Our guys really stepped up today and we had big saves at key times. That helped our confidence and we were able to put it away."
It was good to get bragging rights over the Knights according to Father McGivney head coach Tim Vance.
"A rivalry like this is fun," Vance said. "It's good to have a nice, friendly rivalry. I think both teams get up for it. A lot of the kids know each other, we coaches know each other. It feels good to come back this year and get the win after taking the loss last year. It shows how much we've improved."
MELHS was kept on its heels much of the first half as the Griffins maintained ball control. Father McGivney kept pressure on the Knights defense and senior goalie Thomas Schroader in his return to the net after missing two and a half games due to a leg injury. The pressure proved unsuccessful though, as the teams entered the break locked in a scoreless stalemate.
"We didn't make any substitution changes during halftime, we had to change our mental game," Metro head coach Noah Enke said. "We needed that first half to really break down their game and understand that they were trying to do that short, short, long pass and the slot pass. We had to get our kids on the same page."
Vance felt it was better to let the Griffins hash out the details of their first half as a team rather than overwhelm them with numerous changes.
"We played really well the first half, there wasn't a lot that needed changing," Vance said. We had chances, we just didn't get it put away. That's how I typically handle my halftime. I let them step away from the field and relax a little bit. I discuss with my assistant what we need to do and we try to limit changes to just one or two things. Sometimes you don't want to give them too much information and overload them and we feel it's better to let them focus on just one or two specific things."
It took just seven minutes in the second half to see changes implemented on the field, as the Griffins took a 1-0 lead over the Knights. As Metro and Father McGivney skirmished in front of the Knights' goal, the ball deflected off a MELHS player and found the back of the Knights' net resulting in a self-goal to give the Griffins the advantage.
The Knights answered quickly to tie the game 1-1 in the 52nd minute off an unassisted goal by senior Kedric Norwood. To add insult to injury, Norwood repeated his efforts just three minutes later netting a second shot off a pass from senior Michael Papka to give the Knights a 2-1 lead.
"Getting back in our game took a lot of mental change and they did great," Enke said. "That was something we talked about at halftime, we had to get our first touch. The Griffins were capitalizing on the first touch. They were beating us to the ball. Once we made those changes, we were able to start capitalizing on our chances and were able to take a lead in the game."
The Griffins battled back as sophomore Aaron Boulanger directed a pass to the foot of junior Eli Skubish in Knights' territory to tie the game at 2-2 in the 64th minute. The score by Father McGivney proved to be the final offensive drive in regulation.
After two five-minute overtime rounds the score remained 2-2 and the Knights and Griffins prepared to go into penalty kicks to determine the winner.
Father McGivney junior goal keeper Logan Schumate performed up to expectations during regular time and OT, but Vance threw a wrench in the mindset of the Knights when he put leading scorer Eli Skubish in the net for PKs.
"We tried putting Skubish in goal during penalty kicks a couple times last year and it's the second time this year," Vance said. "He is a great shot-stopper with quick reaction time, great hands. He's just a great athlete all around. We don't always like switching the goalie, but he was warmed up from playing 90 minutes and fired up."
After missing the first two shots, Skubish caught his composure and shutdown the Knights scoring efforts in the first round of PK's. Remaining a tie after the first round with each team scoring three goals, it went to one-on-one PKs.
Derek Shearer of the Griffins scored to open the second round of PKs, putting the Knights in a must score situation. Skubish stood up to the challenge and denied Metro's attempt. He was met at the 18-yard line by his teammates to celebrate the win.
"I'm very pleased with our team's performance today," Enke said. "We've had some struggles the last few games and today was a hard-fought game. We made the changes that were needed and it showed in the second half. I couldn't be prouder of our goalkeeper. Schroader made the stops he needed to make. Penalty kicks is something we haven't had much opportunity to work on with him.”
Father McGivney doesn't have much time to rest as they battle the Roxana Shells today. The Knights travel to Gordon Moore Park to battle Marquette Catholic at 11 a.m. Saturday.