Catawba Ridge keeper Andrew Reinhardt celebrates with fans after making the game winning save in penalty kicks against Greenville. Photos by Rob Upton

Senior goalkeeper Andrew Reinhardt pulled off two massive back-to-back saves in a penalty shootout to help the Catawba Ridge boys’ soccer team to an emotional 2-1 (5-4 on penalty kicks) victory over Greenville Tuesday night in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

With the score tied at 1-1 after 80 minutes of regulation and another 30 minutes of overtime, the two teams entered a tense penalty shootout to decide the match, with the winner moving on to play in the state quarterfinals Friday night.

Greenville’s Jack Bell stepped up to the penalty spot with a chance to win the game for the visiting Red Raiders, but Reinhardt reached out both hands to his right to deny him. With the shootout score then tied at 4-4, Catawba Ridge’s Nate Clark stepped up and buried his shot into the net.

The shootout score was now 5-4 in the Copperheads’ favor, and Reinhardt had the chance to secure a memorable win with one more stop. Greenville’s Juan Pineda tried his shot to the bottom left corner, but Reinhardt stood strong again. He dove to his left to stop the shot, rolled to his feet, then sprinted to celebrate with his jubilant team and a screaming home crowd at The Pit.

“I’m just so happy I could do it for the boys,” Reinhardt said. “I told everyone, it’s not over yet. We still have three games before the state championship…. We’re relieved. I’m just so happy to move on and keep this season going.”

Undefeated Catawba Ridge, now 20-0-2, will now host the winner of A.C. Flora-Walhalla in the state quarterfinals. The A.C. Flora-Walhalla game is scheduled to be played Wednesday night.

Catawba Ridge entered the halftime break up 1-0 when Dalton Bailey coolly converted a 40th minute penalty after Joshua White was tripped in the penalty box.

Senior Luis Rodriguez-Dorantes leveled the score at 1-1 12 minutes into the second half with an audacious flying header, which was served to him by a smart cross by junior defender Dominic Kelly.

The Copperheads scratched and clawed for a winner in regulation, but they couldn’t quite break down the Red Raiders’ defense. The two teams then played two halves of 10-minute overtimes, then two halves of five-minute overtimes, with the specter of penalty kicks looming ever closer.

Try as they might, Catawba Ridge couldn’t catch a break in overtime. Caden Tull saw his shot find the back of the net off of a corner deep into the first half of the second overtime, but the goal was chalked by the referees for a foul after a long discussion between the head official and his assistant.

Just a minute later, Derek Ringnalda’s header was barely tipped over the bar by the fingertips of Greenville junior goalkeeper Martin Rosser.

And then the penalty shootout came: Dylan Dority and Ian Madsen both scored for Catawba Ridge before Rosser got a hand on Ringnalda’s attempt. It was only when Reinhardt stopped what would have been the game-winning shot from Bell that the tide began to turn back to the Copperheads.

And when Clark was asked to keep Catawba Ridge in contention, he also made his mark.

“We don’t want to go home yet,” Clark said. “We wanted to leave a mark. This was the first PK shootout we’ve been in all year, and we handled it with perfection. I told myself, it’s just like practice… (Reinhardt’s) the real hero tonight, coming up with two huge saves for us.”

Reinhardt said he focused on what he could control when he was facing his penalty kicks.

“I picked the spot, and I committed to it,” he said. “That’s all I can do, honestly. I think this game was perfect for us. It woke us up a little bit. I think we feel better prepared for what’s to come.”

Catawba Ridge head coach Phillip McCarter and player Nathan Clark embrace after a very emotional game that pushed the Copperheads to win in penalty kicks.