Panthers fall in overtime

LILBURN - The clock that couldn't move fast enough suddenly wouldn't stop and time ran out on Parkview's season.

In a second-round clash of two top-5 teams, Walton tied it with five minutes left in regulation and won it in overtime to oust the Panthers from the boys soccer Class AAAAA state playoffs Wednesday.

"Two of the top teams in Georgia got pitted in the second round and one has to lose," Parkview coach Michael Tolmich said. "I told the boys, we play them 10 times, they're going to win five, we're going to win five. We're fairly evenly matched teams. We both had opportunities. They ended up putting one more in.

"It's a tough way to end the season. Not how we wanted to end. But we'll figure out a way to come back next year."

Third-ranked Parkview scored first, on a penalty kick by senior captain Durham Knight. But there was still nearly 28 minutes left in the second half.

"It's a really long time," Knight said. "I kept looking up at the scoreboard and it was like the seconds would never come off."

The Parkview defense, outstanding throughout the game and the season, held a hard-charging Walton off for 23 of those minutes.

The fourth-ranked Raiders punched through with 5:08 left in regulation and won it in overtime.

Zach Hunter blasted a shot into the far top corner of the net 31/2 minutes into overtime. That left Parkview with 6:31 to find an equalizer. It wasn't enough time.

The Panthers wiped away an indelible and indistinguishable mix of sweat and tears after the final horn.

"Really and truly, defensively I thought we played extremely well," Tolmich said. "We did what we needed to do defensively. We may have been missing a little bit of offensive punch to try to get a ball finished, but we kind of came into this game knowing that."

One of the Panthers' best offensive weapons, senior Kofi Gyawu, drew a red card in the first round and missed the game.

"But we knew if we held firm defensively, we would get out chances," Tolmich said. "And we got a few. We went up 1-0 and they pushed on us and pushed on us.

"We probably got some poor clearances, made a few mistakes here or there. But overall they came and they earned a couple of goals."

The first half passed scorelessly with only a few real scoring chances materializing as these two highly ranked teams probed for an opening.

Nearly all the opportunities for offense came off corner kicks and Parkview had some good sustained pressure in the moments leading up to halftime. But the majority of the play in the first 40 minutes was held between the 18s.

"We knew we had to keep our defense strong and well organized," Knight said. "We came out and did that in the first half, which really helped us. We really needed our midfielders to step up tonight and they did."

Parkview carried its effort in the Walton end into the second half and sophomore forward Ernesto Cardenas got clear around the outside. He was taken down inside the box and Parkview was awarded the penalty shot. Knight lined up and punched it past the keeper's outstretched hands in the 52nd minute.

Play opened up quite a bit from that point. Walton pushed a third player forward and that yielded considerably results. Parkview weathered much of the storm, but were swamped by the Raiders' tying tally.

"For 20 minutes I was screaming at the clock to go down," Tolmich said. "I hate it for these seniors. I hate it for the other kids. It's not the way we want to go out. A few years in a row I think we've gone out earlier than we want to and maybe earlier than I think we should.

"There's no doubt in my mind we're one of the top teams in Georgia and it just so happened we played another one tonight."