Stephen Lapp's second-half penalty kick save keyed a desperate defensive effort for the Laney High School soccer team Wednesday and gave the Bucs a 2-1 win against East Wake.
Carlos Laniez found a loose ball in the East Wake box and scored to give Laney (17-2) the lead in the 65th minute of play.
But seconds later, things started to unravel.
With East Wake (17-3-2) counterattacking, Laney's Devin Orndorff was called for a foul in the box away from the ball.
East Wake forward Griffin Heffner stepped in to take the game-tying penalty, but Lapp and Laney coach Dave Karlson had done their homework.
"I went and researched everything I could about them," Karlson said. "And every time, that kid goes lower left. I told Stephen to look out for it."
Sure enough, Heffner tried a shot to the lower left corner, and Lapp blocked it.
"I tried to apply what coach had told me and react as quickly as I could," Lapp said. "And it worked out."
The Bucs, exhausted from East Wake's physical attack, found new life after Lapp's save.
"I knew we were going to win the game after he saved it," senior midfielder Stephen Cone said. "I could see it in everyone's eyes."
Lapp's save was also a spark for the Laney defense, which rallied for the final stretch closing out the long balls played in to the more sizeable East Wake attackers. The Warriors only registered three shots on goal in the second half, but racked up 20 fouls for the game and two yellow cards.
"They're big and fast," Cone said of East Wake. "Our defenders did a great job. They showed a ton of heart."
East Wake scored first in the early moments of the first half, but Laney responded with a Mike Walsh penalty kick and wnet ahead on Laniez' goal.
With the win, Laney extends its playoff run further than 2010, when the Bucs surprised several teams to make it to the third round.
Laney will host Pinecrest Saturday at 7:00, who downed New Bern on penalty kicks and ended Laney's season last year.
"Either way, it's a revenge game for us," Cone said. "So we're going to be pumped for it, especially given it's at home."
From Wilmington Star News/Powell Latimer