CLARION — Not even 110 minutes of soccer was enough to determine a district champion on a cold and wet Monday evening in the District 9 Class AAA Championship game between DuBois and Bradford at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium.
But after falling in the 2016 Class AAA championship to Clearfield, the Beavers weren’t letting this one slip away.
After a scoreless tie after two overtime periods, DuBois went 4-for-4 in penalty kicks in the shootout, and Beaver goalkeeper Shadi Hassan made two big saves to give DuBois the Class AAA title with a 4-3 win in the shootout over the Owls.
The district title was DuBois’ first boys title since 1993. They also won a subregional game over Allderdice in 2010.
“We came into playoffs 1-for-7 on penalty kicks and we were 4-for-4 tonight,” said DuBois coach Matt Erickson. “I couldn’t be happier about it.
“Conditions were kind of rough tonight with the field being wet. It was just wet enough that the ball would skip, and feet would slide out from under you. The first half we really struggled. We didn’t connect a lot of passes. We didn’t move the ball well, but I think the second half we dominated the game a little bit better. We had some great shots on goal, we just couldn’t put one in the net.”
The first three shooters from each side in the shootout ended up putting goals in as Bradford’s Brent Kennedy, Alex Marrone and Colton Swanson got a ball past Hassan. DuBois’ Joe Sawey, Jack Mohney and Seth Braid matched the Bradford trio with goals of their own.
On the Owls’ fourth shot, Hassan made a big save on Jared Lucas. DuBois’ Nicholas Graeca responded with a goal of his own to make it a perfect 4-for-4 for the Beavers.
Bradford’s last shooter –Jake Johnson –was stopped by Hassan for the final PK, allowing the DuBois bench to erupt and celebrate around Hassan.
The game was DuBois’ first contest in about a week and a half, and the Beavers showed a little rust in the early going.
“That’s what we went through for years without having any other AAA teams in District 9,” said Erickson of the long layoff. “Last year we had a game before the district championship. This year, having that much time off is always detrimental to you. It’s so much time for the kids not playing full-pace. They just get kind of complacent.”
Both sides only had two shots each in the first half, but DuBois made its shots count as both nearly ended up in the goal.
Bradford keeper Evan Schmidt made a save on DuBois’ Alex Gribik in just the second minute of the game. The ball deflected off Schmidt’s hand and hit the crossbar before the Bradford defense could clear the ball away.
Schmidt also made a big save off a header from the Beavers’ Nolan Bussell in the 29th minute to keep the game scoreless.
Kennedy and Johnson registered the only shots in the first half for the Owls.
Although there wasn’t much action in the first half, business picked up in the second half for both sides.
The first big save of the second half went to Hassan as he corraled a shot from Kennedy off a corner kick.
Later in the half, there was a scrum around the net in front of the DuBois keeper, but an open shot was kicked high of the goal in the 71st minute.
Schmidt also made a save on a header in the last minute of regulation that may have been headed for the goal.
After regulation, DuBois led the shot count, 11-8.
Between the two overtime periods, DuBois took the shot count, 4-1, but nothing was really a danger of getting in the goal.
With the win, DuBois will now play in a District 5-9 subregional game on Wednesday against Somerset. The game will be played at 7 p.m. at Clearfield High School.
Somerset went 15-2 on the season with their only losses to Altoona and Bishop McCort.
“We’re so far separated. We don’t know much about them at all,” said Erickson. “We’re just going to play our game and practice tomorrow, work hard and see what happens on Wednesday.”
The winner of the subregional contest will play the second place team out of District 7 in the first round of the PIAA Tournament on Nov. 7.