Two senior soccer players — St. Thomas Academy defender Devin Kennedy and Northfield goalkeeper Cristian Fuentes-Rivera — stood 12 yards apart in the second overtime of Thursday's championship with a potential game-winning penalty shot at stake and so much on their minds.
Kennedy ultimately fired the ball low to the left. Fuentes-Rivera dived not quite far enough in pursuit. The goal gave the No. 3-seeded Cadets a 1-0 victory and the program's first Class 1A state soccer title.
Logan Davis of the Cadets (18-4) drew the decisive penalty kick by getting fouled inside the 18-yard box. Before their showdown on the U.S. Bank Stadium turf, both Kennedy and Fuentes-Rivera spent time in their own heads.
"Amanuel [Bird] came up to me right before and said, 'Are you sure you got it? Do you want me to take this?' " Kennedy said. "I said, 'Yeah, I'll take it. I've done it in practice. Let's do it.' "
Fuentes-Rivera, on the winning side in shootouts in two previous playoff games, also felt certain.
"I'm good at PKs; I'm the best goalie in the state," said Fuentes-Rivera, who actually made Kennedy doubt himself a bit.
"Grabbing the ball, I was confident until I made eye contact with the goalie," Kennedy said. "He was kind of staring me down, making me a little nervous, making me second guess where I was going to kick.
"In the end, I just stuck to what I did best and went lower left," said Kennedy, whose team made "Be Brave" its mantra.
Fuentes-Rivera of the fifth-seeded Raiders (16-4-3) showed similar courage in defeat.
"I hesitated at the last second,'' he said, "and it went in."
David La Vaque