Soccer team regroups after two-day match

For members of the Bishop’s School (San Diego) boys’ soccer team, Thursday’s playoff practice session was routine -- with one major exception.

“We did our usual stuff, we did what we needed to do and we definitely knew we didn’t need to work on penalty kicks because we got plenty of practice on that the past two days,” junior Matt Harris said.

One day earlier, Harris and his teammates put the finishing touches on the longest documented high school soccer playoff shootout, edging Crawford (San Diego) 21-19 in 25 rounds of penalty kicks in a CIF San Diego Section Division IV meeting that took two days to finish.

Players and coaches used terms such as “surreal”, “unbelievable” and “emotional roller-coaster ride” to summarize the match that started Tuesday and was completed Wednesday.

Regulation and 15 minutes of sudden-death overtime were not enough to settle the match, which was tied at 2 on Tuesday. Both teams remained tied following the standard five rounds of penalties. The sudden-death shootout ensued, and after 16 additional kicks each -- 21 full rounds -- the contest was still tied and was halted due to darkness.

The coaches agreed to replay the contest Wednesday, but the CIF San Diego Section ruled that the contest needed to continue from the point it was stopped. Instead of resuming with sudden-death kicks, the teams started Wednesday with a new set of five penalty-kick rounds, according to Bishop’s team coach. Harris converted in Bishop's fourth kick, putting the team ahead 3-1 on the day and 21-19 overall. Crawford missed on its fourth attempt, ending the contest.

“It was surreal,” Bishop’s coach Malcolm Tovey said. “After you get past the first five [rounds], all you need is one team to make it and one team to miss and it’s all over. To go that far was unbelievable.”

When Harris stepped to the penalty spot, Bishop's led 2-1 on the day and 20-19 overall.

“I looked at goalie, looked at the side I wasn’t going to kick it to,” Harris said. “It was a total mind game with the goalie, which I find fun.”

Harris, a right-footed shooter, shot to his right, catching the Crawford keeper flat-footed.

“I did my job, all we could do was watch and hope all of our hard work paid off,” said Harris, who converted all three of his attempts during the shootout.

Then, it was up to Christian Guinchard, Bishop’s junior keeper, who had never been involved in a shootout before Tuesday.

“It was definitely the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done,” Guinchard said. “The second I stepped into the goal [for the final attempt], there was some feeling I had that I knew to go right.”

Guinchard guessed correctly, and the Crawford player missed the goal, ending the match and sparking an onfield celebration by Bishop’s.

“When the last shooter for Crawford missed, I don’t think I had ever been so happy in my life,” Guinchard said. “The whole team rushed me, we all got into a dog pile. It was such a great feeling.”

“It was a really fine experience to be honest with you,” Tovey said. “Their kids played extremely hard, were great sports and there was a lot of camaraderie when it can around to the Wednesday night when we had to finish the thing. It was a credit to high school soccer.”

Bishop’s reward is a matchup with Mater Dei (Chula Vista, Calif.) in Friday’s Section quarterfinals. Realizing the pending match-up, Harris laughed and recalled that two years ago, his freshman season, Bishop’s and Mater Dei met in the playoffs in a match that also went to sudden-death penalty kicks, but that one lasted only 13 rounds.