FAIRBORN - The Big Walnut High School boys soccer team is proving to be adept at penalty kicks.
The Golden Eagles defeated Kettering Alter 2-1 in a shootout in a Division II regional semifinal Tuesday, marking the second consecutive game in which they have won in a shootout.
Big Walnut, which improved to 12-4-5 and advanced to regional final against Dayton Carroll at 3 p.m. Saturday at a site to be announced, outscored Alter 5-4 in the shootout, with midfielder Zach Mason scoring the winner.
Also scoring in the shootout were midfielders Joel Craig, Ben Mason and Nate Hrusovsky and goalie A.J. Fleak.
Fleak made a diving save on Alter's second shooter in the shootout, Evan Price.
"We have confidence in A.J. and we've been practicing (penalty kicks) from the very beginning of the season because we knew that the teams in (Division) II are very close," said coach Charlie Brodhead, whose team defeated New Albany 1-0 in a shootout in a district final last Saturday, outscoring the Eagles 4-2 in the shootout. "We knew the games would be close and that we needed to be ready if the (game) turned to penalty kicks."
The shootout was extended to sudden death when the score was tied at 4 after five shooters. After Alter's sixth shooter, Matt McNeil, shot over the crossbar, Zach Mason fooled Knights goalie Kyle McGrail into going to his right and scored into the middle of the net, igniting the Golden Eagles' celebration.
"We practice (penalty kicks) a lot, and we have a really good keeper," Zach Mason said.
Alter, which finished 9-7-4, scored on a header by Mike Dudzinski with 36.3 seconds left in the first half to take a 1-0 lead into halftime. However, Zach Mason scored with 18:08 left in the second half and the game went to two 15-minute overtime periods, in which neither team scored.
"It could have been (demoralizing)," Brodhead said of Alter's late first-half goal. "But these guys are resilient and they've been that way all season. We've lost close games and we've had a lot of ties, so we know we have a chance."
Carroll improved to 17-1-2 with a 5-0 win over Tipp City Tippecanoe in the other regional semifinal Tuesday. Big Walnut has an opportunity to avenge a 3-3 double-overtime loss to Carroll in a regional final in 2005.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal on Nov. 4.
"We can play with anyone right now," Zach Mason said.
Alter had beaten the Golden Eagles 4-1 in a regional final in 2006.