On Tuesday night in the opening round of the Second Region Tournament, it was University Heights Academy Blazers celebrating an extra-time victory.
Just 24 hours later, the script completely flipped.
UHA and Caldwell County played 90 minutes of scoreless soccer on Wednesday night in the Second Region semifinals and when the dust settled, the Tigers were running and celebrating a 5-4 win in penalty kicks over the Blazers.
After neither team put up any scores in regulation or extra time, two teams that failed to find the net, connected on eight consecutive PKs.
The hero of Tuesday’s win, Preston Thomas stepped up and after putting his team over on Tuesday, couldn’t put home his attempt as it was saved by Caldwell keeper Corbin Nichols, giving Tigers’ star Blake Vivrette a chance to win.
After missing an attempt and getting a re-kick after UHA keeper Will Maxwell jumped off the line too early, Vivrette buried the second chance, sending Caldwell County to the region championship and putting an end to The Blazers’ season.
While Thomas may feel the game is on his shoulders, head coach Frankie Thomas said the junior will have many chances to continue to prove himself.
“We had 50 minutes as a team to put it away,” he said. “I wanted him up there to prove what he can do. He can still do that and he did on Tuesday. Just move on and keep it going.”
Thomas said he couldn’t have asked for anything more from his bunch in the loss.
“You put your best five up there and the last one misses — it’s just a tough one,” Thomas said. “The boys gave us 110% out there while they played and you can’t ask for much more. Even though we didn’t have the season we’ve had in the past, these guys left it all out on the field.”
Thomas will now have to find pieces to replace a strong senior class — one that has been a part of a lot of success throughout their careers.
“They were fighters,” Thomas said. “The freshman and sophomores and even the middle schoolers saw the fight they had, especially throughout the postseason.”
But now he will turn to Thomas and Ethan Hale to lead the way next season.
The Blazers will be even younger next season in key areas and Thomas will need to see those young guys work hard throughout the offseason.
“They’ve got to work hard,” Thomas said. “All I ask is that they show up in October — that’s what they did this year — that’s all I ask.”