COSTA MESA — One of the most hotly contested games in the entire Daily Pilot Cup – if not the best – came down to which goalie finished the strongest.
The goalie that came up big was Newport Heights' Ethan Barnes, who made two of his six saves in the penalty-kick round, won 4-2 over St. John the Baptist by the Sharks on Sunday. The boys' fifth-and sixth-grade silver division game was tied at 2 after regulation at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex.
Barnes, who does not consistently play soccer year-round, made his first save on a low shot by Cade Schobel, and his second was one where he leaned to his left and stopped a shot by Joey Santos. Barnes played in his second Pilot Cup.
When asked if he had ever made two saves in any penalty kick round in his young life, Barnes said "Never." He was part of a team featuring all fifth graders that won its first Pilot Cup and had never advanced past the quarterfinals.
"I just guessed right," Barnes said of his second save. "I was pretty nervous. It's awesome, because we've never gone this far."
Ethan Schroder opened the penalty kick scoring for Newport Heights, on a hesitation move. Cameron Harper hit a hard shot to the right-hand corner for a 2-0 lead.
St. John forward Cesar O'Campo calmly popped a ball past Barnes for a 2-1 lead. Another Sharks player hit a high one past lunging goalie Bill Rosenthal. St. John's Nicolaus Lopez struck to the left side for a 3-2 Newport Heights lead.
Newport Heights coach Matt Adelsohn, who received a nice ice bath from his team on a warm day, was a little nervous as well in the extra round.
"I did not want to go to PKs," Adelsohn said. "That's every coach's nightmare. We've been playing the same way all tournament long. We've never been down. I was surprised we had that much energy to play two games in a row."
Newport Heights had earlier defeated Wilson on Sunday, 3-1, in the semifinals.
Zander Adelsohn, the coach's son, scored the clinching goal on the penalty kick to win it. The postgame celebration featured Barnes getting chased by nearly his entire team, with several removing their shirts to end a long week.
"I knew I was going to score," Adelsohn said. "I have this one shot, where I fake like I was going one way and I was going another."
St. John was going for its first-ever Pilot Cup boys championship in any grade level. Schobel nearly scored the game-winning goal in the 47th minute, but it struck off the crossbar. Schobel kicked the ball so hard he went sprawling in the air for a second. Another St. John's player hit a hard, lofty shot that Barnes was able to grab in midair.
Danny Loberg tied the game at 2 just two minutes earlier.
"It's unfortunate when it comes down to penalty kicks, but it was a heck of a game," St. John head coach Brian Barajas said. "We had the winning goal go off the crossbar. If he had hit it low, he probably would have scored. Once we played the long ball, we had some scoring chances. The boys have nothing to hang their heads about. They played well."
After Harper kicked a goal in for the game's first goal in the fifth minute, O'Campo put in the equalizer two minutes later.
Harper struck again less than two minutes left in the first half, after he weaved his way in between two defenders.
"I just shot it," Harper said. "It's unbelievable that we won."