By Datti Jinkiri
120 minutes of soccer were played at Clinton High School tonight, and no one found the back of the net. Penalty kicks were needed to settle the Southern Conference title match between Brilla and FC Miami City. Up stepped Brilla goalkeeper Jordan Bell.
Bell made two key stops, and defender Richard Bryan scored the decisive penalty to give Brilla a 3-1 shootout win and a spot in the PDL semifinals. Angelo Kelly and Jordan Skelton also scored their penalty kicks for Brilla.
Bell was the indubitable man of the match tonight. He made five saves, including two one-on-one opportunities in regulation. The Scotsman picked up yet another shutout in what was clearly his best game of the weekend.
Brilla had 16 shots in the match versus FC Miami City's 13. The team had their best opportunity in the 90th minute when striker Javen Palmer latched on to Thomas Vancaeyezeele's through ball. However, the Englishman's venomous strike flew over the bar.
Winger Jacob Alatorre had another good chance early in the second half, but his left-footed half volley fired wide of the target.
Miami City midfielder Abderraouf Abdallah got sent off after receiving his second yellow card in the 85th minute. In extra time, however, Brilla could not take advantage of having an extra man.
Brilla has lost in penalty kicks in its last four playoff appearances, and thoughts began to creep into many people's heads as the shootout began. The situation looked bleak after Jon Colino scored for Miami City, and Carlos Garces missed for Brilla.
However, Bell came to the rescue. Kevin Warton skied his penalty kick into row Z, and Bell denied Fares Mouri's shot. Skelton and Kelly both kept their composure and put their penalties into the back of the net. Bell then made a fantastic save on Mohamed Kourouma's penalty, therefore setting the stage for Bryan.
The outside back calmly buried his penalty into the upper right section of the net and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Brilla has advanced to the PDL semifinals in a location to be determined. There is a chance that the game could be played back in Clinton.
|Jordan Bell makes his first of two saves in the penalty shootout.|