Elma falls out of postseason play in penalty kicks to LaCenter

Elma v. LaCenter

LA CENTER — Connecting on the last two penalty kicks, La Center ended Elma’s boys soccer season by edging the Eagles in a shootout, 0-0 (4-3), in a District IV Class 1A boys soccer playoff on Saturday at La Center.

The Wildcats advanced to face Seton Catholic in a winner-to-state, loser-out district contest Monday at Camas. The Eagles closed out their season at 7-9.

Muddy conditions on a grass field limited the scoring opportunities for both teams. Neither club scored during regulation play and two five-minute overtime periods.

Both teams made three of their first four penalty kicks during the shootout. Edgar Hermenegildo (Elma’s goalkeeper was also one of his team’s designated shooters), Reynaldo Ayala and Steven Persell converted for the Eagles.

Going first in the shootout, La Center hit its final attempt, while Elma’s last try sailed wide to the left.

Neither club had a serious scoring threat during a first half that didn’t even feature a corner kick.

“(There were) sloppy conditions,” Elma coach Carson Seaberg said. “People would cut and they’d slip and fall.”

The offensive pace picked up during the second half. The Wildcat goalkeeper made a diving save of a Persell attempt, while Ayala grazed the left post with another shot.

Hermenegildo denied La Center with a spectacular stop in the final 15 minutes of regulation. He made a sliding deflection of a 16-yard shot, with the ball ricocheting off his forearm and chest to the far post, where the Eagles were able to clear it.

Elma midfielder Garrett Thomas cleared out a La Center free kick in overtime.

“We may not have had any stellar performance, one person who stood out,” Seaberg commented. “As a group, as a team, we had a great effort. It was an effort we hadn’t seen on a consistent basis and we had that effort the whole time.”

Junior striker Trevor Hann, Elma’s leading scorer, shifted to fullback in this contest and was cited for outstanding defense. The Eagles were without two starting defenders, Kyle Emerson and Trent Escoffon, due to other commitments.

Seaberg also noted his team’s continued improvement this season. The Eagles had gone 1-15 as recently as two years ago. The Elma coach also expressed appreciation to a significant number of boosters who made the long trip south.