Goalkeeper Nick Zuniga scored a pair of penalty kicks and senior Nick Poncho scored the game-winner in overtime Friday to help No. 8 Sulphur come from behind to beat No. 25 East Ascension 3-2 in the first round of the Division I soccer playoffs.
“We knew we were in for a tough game and that their ranking didn’t justify them,” Sulphur head coach Trevor Foolkes said. “We were lucky at the end of the day to come up with a win.
“I was little bit disappointed the way we started, but in the end the guys pulled through. They (East Ascension) are big, strong and solid. They play fast and physical. The first half was an adjustment for us. The second half we figured out how to play and move the ball quicker without getting into too much contact.”
The Tors (13-2-3) will host No. 9 Dutchtown (11-7-2) on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in the regional round. Dutchtown beat No. 24 Archbishop Rummel (11-9-3) 8-1 in the first round.
With a minute left in the second half of overtime, Kaleb Lirette took a pass at midfield and moved up the sideline before crossing the ball to senior Nick Poncho, who scored his second goal of the season.
“I think it was our best play of the game,” Foolkes said. “It was a lot of relief and a lot of excitement and celebration for how that game went and getting that goal in the second half of overtime.”
Sulphur got off seven shots in the first half but trailed 1-0 at the break after the Spartans (6-8-4) scored an early goal off a corner kick.
“We could have been up 2-0 in the first five minutes, but then we flattened out,” Foolkes said. “I cant explain the first half. We didn’t show up in the first half. I thought when we went behind the first goal, we played better.”
Zuniga’s first goal tied the game early in the second half. East Ascension scored on a free kick in the 65th minute, but another foul in the box set up Zuniga’s second gametying goal in the 72nd minute. Zuniga, who made three saves. He has scored five times this season on penalty kicks.
“He (Zuniga) is very comfortable taking them,” Foolkes said. “He took a couple last year.
“He is definitely our go to guy when taking PKs. It is very rare to see a goalkeeper taking pKs. He is left-footed and he handles the pressure well.”