TEUTOPOLIS — Mt. Zion senior Jacob Kovacs placed a penalty kick past Teutopolis keeper Seth Belford with less than 15 minutes left in the game that turned into the game-winner in the Braves' 2-1 win on Thursday.
The referee whistled for a penalty after seeing Mt. Zion's Craig Kenney fall to the ground amid a cluster of players in the box on a corner kick.
Unclear as to what happened, Mt. Zion head coach Jonathan Moore said one of his bench players saw a Teutopolis defender extend an arm to knock down Kenney. Teutopolis head coach Dustin Jansen said he saw the play as an even battle.
“Nobody's going to agree fully with the referee,” Jansen said. “I saw my guy go straight up and get his head on the ball. (Kenney) looked like he took a bit of a flop, coming down off balance.”
Teutopolis didn't sink after Kovacs penalty goal, though, as Kyle Blievernicht found the ball at his feet in front of the goalkeeper and shot it in for the Wooden Shoes' only goal of the game.
Mt. Zion kept up its offensive pressure, clinging to a one-goal lead, and Moore said his team's counter attack kept Teutopolis from pushing too many players forward offensively.
“Our last several pushes were really key to keep them on the defensive, instead of them being on their attacking third constantly,” Moore said.
The Braves missed a chance to put the game away with 9:36 left when a collision between Belford and a Mt. Zion attacker jarred the ball away and to the feet of a free-running Braves' player.
With an open net and Teutopolis players in pursuit, the Braves' attacker chipped the bouncing ball inches over the crossbar.
Teutopolis was still in the game and, despite Mt. Zion's loose-ball miscue, Jansen credited it to his goalkeeper, Belford, who made five saves in the game, including two diving saves.