SOUTH PORTLAND — Don’t think, just do.
That simple formula worked for South Portland goalkeeper Henry Curran, who blocked two penalty kicks. And it worked for Ben Michaud, who scored the goal that sent South Portland past Kennebunk 4-2 on PKs for a 2-1 victory Saturday in a Western Class A boys’ soccer prelim at Martin Memorial Field.
The eighth-seeded Red Riots (9-5-1) move on to a quarterfinal at top-seed Scarborough (13-1) on Wednesday. The ninth-seeded Rams finish the season at 6-6-3.
“Just put it in the back of the net. Don’t think about it, just go up and rip it,” said South Portland Coach Brian Hoy, recalling his advice to players at the end of two 15-minute overtime sessions. “We want to play as long as we can but we have a tough opponent on Tuesday. We’ll give them everything we’ve got.”
So after 110 minutes of soccer, what does a keeper think about as a shooter lines up on the penalty spot?
“Just a blank mind, you’re not thinking about anything,” Curran said. “Just focus, do what I can to save it. A couple of them, I watched their plant foot, and a couple looked where they were going to shoot and I chose to dive there. That’s about it.”
Both regulation goals came during a back-and-forth first half.
Kennebunk struck first when Robby Burns headed Pip Butterfield’s long throw-in past Curran (11 saves) about eight minutes into the game.
South Portland countered about 14 minutes later, when Andrew Whipple struck the ball from about 15 yards out, driving it past keeper Ben Wilson (nine saves).
“The ball landed in front of my feet and I didn’t think about it, I just kicked it,” Whipple said. “We had some momentum early on, and I felt it was going to be a high-scoring game but I guess I was a wrong.”
Kennebunk controlled the second half, with midfielders Dany Reyes Caballero, Ryan Keefe and Patrick Gassman keeping the ball from the big-man, little-man forward combination of Robert Graff and Amhed Suja.
The game was hotly contested from the start, with South Portland drawing two yellow cards to Kennebunk’s one. The Rams held an edge in corner kicks (3-2) and free kicks (16-12). The biggest difference came in the second half, when the Rams accumulated 11 of their 25 shots. The Riots managed five of their 19 in the second half.
Heading into OT, Rans Coach Nate Bean said, “We’re just thinking, â€˜Put one in the back of the net so we can get out of here and move on to Scarborough.’ It didn’t work out that way.”
Instead, it’s South Portland moving on to Scarborough.