Pearce boys soccer team advances with sudden death win over Rockwall

Brad Loper - Staff Photographer

LITTLE ELM — Richardson Pearce got a sudden-death shootout goal from Damien Hawkins to defeat Rockwall, 2-1, in a Class 5A area-round playoff.

Rockwall, playing short-handed, scored a tying goal with 1:31 left in regulation.

Pearce senior goalie Jack Miller made back-to-back stops to set up Hawkins’ game-winning kick.

“We have come back before, we won in overtime the last time,” Miller said. “We had dedicated the game to our teammate [Rolff Camey] who died on this anniversary a year ago. It’s such a blessing to be here playing with, and believing in, my teammates.”

Losing a goalie to a red card with two minutes left, Rockwall rallied to force overtime with a line-drive goal by lefty Clay Rittershaus. With a free kick on the right side following a takedown from 25 yards out, Rittershaus found a seam in Pearce’s wall and stroked an untouched goal to far side of the net.

In a physical, emotional match with three cards, Rockwall played two men down through 13 minutes of overtime. Pearce and Rockwall had met earlier this season in a tournament and went scoreless through regulation, with Rockwall winning on penalty kicks.

After a scoreless first half with few solid scoring chances for either side, Rockwall tried inserting speedy junior Xavier Castille in the second half. Castille, a standout football player with 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash, tried to create chances down the right side but came up empty.

Pearce got its first goal in the 58th minute as junior Michael Garcia scored on a penalty kick. The goalie guessed to jump right, and Garcia buried the ball to the other side. The penalty kick was set up in another aggressive scramble for a loose ball right in front of the goal.

Pearce, a longtime area power, had its last strong run to the playoffs in 2010 with berth in a Class 4A final. Pearce largely controlled the tempo, including a free kick in the first overtime, but couldn’t convert.

The five-man shootout ended with four goals apiece as Miller and Rockwall goalie KC Nkalari each had a stop. On the third sudden-death kick, Miller had a stop to set up Hawkins’ winning goal.

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