Lewis Central senior goalkeeper Kyle Grappa said he guessed a direction and just went with his gut feeling.
That feeling paid off, as he made the game-winning save against an Abraham Lincoln penalty kick as the Titans boys soccer team overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat crosstown-rival Abraham Lincoln 3-2 on Thursday at the Gale Wickersham Athletic Complex.
"I felt like we played pretty well overall as a team," Lewis Central head coach James Driver said. "They had us in the first half, I would say. At halftime I told the guys not to put their heads down, to continue to grind and work together as a team."
Abraham Lincoln scored the only goal of the first half when Noah Nielsen buried one in the back of the net off a rebounded shot that left the goal open.
The Lynx stretched their lead to two in the 49th minute when freshman Logan Vargas found senior Spencer Hewitt in the middle of the field, who then found the back of the net.
The Titans finally broke through eight minutes later, when Jonah Churchill found himself one-on-one with the goalie and snuck it past the keeper to close the deficit to one.
"Once we got our goal relatively quickly in the second half and we were down one, I knew at that time we had a chance because there was a lot of time left," Driver said. "With this squad, they never give up. They're always fighting and they're always going to work together."
Churchill's goal sparked the momentum for Lewis Central who scored eight minutes later on a goal by sophomore Boston Hensley to tie the game up at 2-2.
Lewis Central sophomore Colton Costello scored the go-ahead goal in the 70th minute, but a penalty in the 73rd minute threatened the Titan's lead.
Gappa made the save and the Titans held on for the final seven minutes.
"That's what (Gappa) does," Driver said. "He trains for that moment. He works hard in practice. I had faith in him. We do PKs in training. He works with his club. I knew in that moment, at that given point in time, I wouldn't want anyone else there but Gappa.
"Like he said, he picks a way and goes with it. It's a gut feeling. I've never been a goalie so I just ride with it."
Hensley and the Titans were filled with excitement after the match. Hensley's goal was the first of his varsity career.
"It's a great feeling," he said. "We came back in the second half and scored three goals right off the bat. It's just a great feeling."
Driver made some adjustments to his defense at halftime, which paid off.
"I noticed some things that they were doing that were giving them a lot of time and space in the midfield," he said. "We made some defensive adjustments, we made some adjustments up top and in the midfield. Really locked them up and locked them down in the second half."
Despite taking the loss, Jamison Parkhill mentioned he was happy with his team's efforts.
"The first 20 we were on them," he said. "We were pushing the advantage and then our level went down as I started putting subs in. It happens. I thought we were in a good position going into half. ... They got that one, LC went up and we went down. They got the second one in and it snowballed from there."
Jamison added he was especially proud of freshman goalkeeper Carlos Andrade, whose efforts kept the game within reach for the Lynx.
"He's stepping up huge for us," he said. "Without him on some of those, it would have been a totally different game. He had a hand on all three of them. Without him back there it would have been a bigger scoreline."
Lewis Central is in action next at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday against Elkhorn (Neb.) at home. Abraham Lincoln plays North Platte (Neb.) at 10 a.m. on Saturday at home.
Lewis Central is now 2-1 on the season, winning its last two games after a season-opening loss. Abraham Lincoln is 1-2.
Lewis Central (2-1) 0 3 -- 3
Abraham Lincoln (1-2) 1 1 -- 2