GLOVERSVILLE — Justin Kemmet kept his head clear and his mission simple.
The Gloversville senior goalkeeper knew that his performance in a penalty shootout against Amsterdam on Wednesday in the first round of the Section II Class A boys’ soccer tournament was going to be the difference between the Dragons moving on in the postseason or going home, so Kemmet recalled the private goalie coaching that “unfolded” his entire goalkeeping career.
“Just go to the side,” Kemmet said, “get my hands there.”
All four of Kemmet’s teammates who stepped up to the penalty spot in the shootout converted, and Kemmet stonewalled a pair of Amsterdam attempts as Gloversville, which had been largely bested for the first 70 minutes of regulation, rallied for a pair of late goals set up by long Dane Dillenback throw-ins to force a 2-2 draw and advance 4-2 on penalty kicks.
“We are absolutely resilient,” Gloversville coach Jim Yanno said. “We’re going to fight until the end. They really showed that today. We’ve had a bunch of injuries we had to overcome, and I think halfway through the second half those guys who had been out finally got a feel for the game. We got some momentum going, and it changed the outcome of the match.”
Gloversville (No. 8 seed, 8-6-2 overall) will visit top-seeded La Salle Institute in the quarterfinal round on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Dragons spent most of the game on the back foot, with only a few brief offensive threats produced by forwards James Collar and Doug Cook. However, down 2-0 with less than 12 minutes to play, Gloversville finally got a spark when Dillenback launched a long throw-in into the box that Collar headed past Amsterdam goalie Lucca Quatrini.
Ten minutes later, Dillenback’s throw-in again created magic.
The long, swerving throw ricocheted off the near goalpost and was ruled to have deflected off an Amsterdam defender before spinning into the goal to tie the game less than two minutes before the end of regulation.
“I thought it was going to go out of bounds and be a corner kick,” Dillenback said. “Then I saw the goalie smack it, and it went off the post into the goal. I didn’t even know what to think. I just ran.”
“Dane’s made those throw-ins very dangerous all year,” Yanno said. “He came through with a big throw to tie it up.”
It was a difficult equalizer to surrender for an Amsterdam (No. 9 seed, 7-7-2) team that had controlled most of the action during regulation.
“The boys said it never touched anybody,” Amsterdam coach Christopher Green said. “I can’t tell from here. Who knows what really happened. At the end of the day, the ref’s there, so that’s what it is.”
After 30 minutes of overtime couldn’t decide a winner, with Amsterdam having the best chance on a Joe Tepan chip that Kemmet recovered to secure, the spot in the quarterfinals came down to penalty kicks.
Jordan Yanno, Dillenback, Kazuma Lomanto and Collar all converted neatly for Gloversville. Luke Patrei and John Carbone both scored for Amsterdam, but Kemmet denied Tepan in the second round and Nick Covey in the fourth to send Gloversville to the next round.
“When I see my whole team come at me [after the final save],” Kemmet said, “that’s the whole reason I’m here. It’s the reason why I play soccer.”
“Justin’s absolutely built for this moment,” Jim Yanno said.
Covey and Brodie McNeil scored brilliant individual goals on either side of halftime for Amsterdam. Covey scored the opener with 8:54 left in the first half with an 80-yard solo run where he dribbled past two defenders before finishing with his left foot, while McNeil scored nine minutes into the second half when he stepped up from midfield to force a turnover, dribbled into space and blasted a shot past Kemmet from 25 yards out.
After Gloversville pulled within 2-1, Covey and McNeil nearly put the game away with five minutes left, both hitting the post with shots that came seconds apart.
“This group has been amazing,” Green said. “We’ve learned from each other and grown from each game, each practice. Respect to all of the seniors I’ve had this year, they’ve done a tremendous job.”
Halftime score: Amsterdam led 1-0. Amsterdam scoring: Covey 1-0, McNeil 1-0. Gloversville scoring: Collar 1-0, Dillenback 0-1, Own goal 1. Goalies: Amsterdam, Quatrini, 3 saves. Gloversville, Kemmet, 12 saves.