COLORADO SPRINGS -— Rasce Engelhardt had not played goalie in a competitive soccer match since he was in the seventh grade.
But after Holy Family’s starting keeper Liam Burns broke his thumb in practice on Monday, it was Engelhardt who coach David Martinez turned to in the biggest game of the year.
And why not?
The senior has championship pedigree. A state track champion last spring in the 800 meter run, Engelhardt was used to the big stage.
On Tuesday night in the heavy snow at The Classical Academy, Engelhardt stopped all 10 shots he faced in the 110 minutes of regulation and two overtime periods, and then gave his team a chance in the penalty shootout with two more saves. But Titans keeper Jack Carpenter did him one better and helped TCA advance to the Class 4A quarterfinals with a 7-6 victory in a penalty shootout that went nine rounds.
“It was an incredible game and I think it would have gone a little differently if Mother Nature wasn’t so harsh on us,” said Martinez, whose 10th-seeded Tigers finished the season an impressive 12-3-2. “Buts that’s what PKs are, it’s a flip of the coin and we ended up on the wrong side.
“But what more can you expect with Rasce coming in and Liam getting hurt … he kept us in it.”
The Tigers controlled possession though the first half and had their chance before the snow started to come down heavier in the second half.
The Titans had their chance in the second, but nothing really materialized with the ball, which must have felt like kicking a boulder, gathering snow with every pass.
The Tigers gained the early advantage in kicks, on finishes from Cody Chavers, Jake Hulquest and Darin Chavers.
Engelhardt made a save on Kyle LaPour and Holy Family was up 3-2.
“I had kind of played joke around keeper with the guys on the weekends, so I had a little bit of confidence, but not a whole lot going in,” Engelhardt said.
Holy Family’s Tanner Baird would have his shot saved by Carpenter and it was 4-4 after five rounds.
Things got really interesting in round six. The Tigers’ Dylan McIntosh missed to start and then Engelhardt guessed right on Matt Roehr’s shot and made the save to keep things going.
The Titans would seal it in the ninth round, after Holy Familly’s Ryan Carpenter had his shot saved, the Titans’ Nathan Johns, a state champion wrestler, would finish it off to set off a frenzy.
“It was a good game and a good run,” Martinez said. “Now we have something to build for next year.”