February 9, 2018 10:45:36 AM
Redemption came at just the right time for Connor Rose and Bryce Braddock.
A year after losing in a penalty kick shootout to Center Hill in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A State tournament, Rose and Braddock learned from the disappointment and ensured they will play at least one more match in their high school careers.
Rose scored was proved to be the winning penalty kick, while Braddock saved his second shot in the shootout to send New Hope to a 7-6 victory against Corinth in the first round of the MHSAA Class 4A State tournament.
The victory helped New Hope (14-4) secure its ninth-straight win and a home date against Northeast Jones at 1 p.m. Saturday in the second round.
"I just knew I couldn't let my team down again," said Rose, a senior, who had his penalty kick stopped last season against Center Hill. "I just wanted that redemption."
Rose admitted to lacking confidence after the miss, but he said he for the first time taking penalty kicks he felt calm and relaxed for some reason. He turned that confidence into a well-struck shot to the top right corner. He picked that side because he noticed the goalkeeper was diving to the shooter's left side. On his shot, the goalkeeper changed and dove to the shooter's right, but he said his shot avoided his reach.
The goal followed a score by Trey Parnell off an assist by Ellis Clark with about seven minutes in regulation that forced extra time. The teams battled through two 10-minute overtimes and two five-minute sudden death OT periods to settle it.
New Hope coach Andrew Olsen said the Trojans worked on penalty kicks every day this season in anticipation of having to be tested again. He said the never-say-die attitude his team, which features nine seniors, came through in the second half and in the extra sessions.
"They just picked it up a notch," Olsen said. "When we step on the field we expect to win."
Olsen said Rose's kick was "perfect" and that he has never seen him so happy. He could say the same for Braddock, a senior, who stopped the final shot to send his teammates into a celebration that was a little muted considering the length of the match.
"It was the luck of the draw, I guess," Braddock said of his saves in the shootout. "I got lucky and guessed the right way.
Braddock said the Trojans were "persistent" after a first half in which they felt none of them were playing like they should have been. He said he knew the team was going to win after he saw Parnell's shot from 35 yards sink down into the net. That's why he, too, knew he had to do his part to help the Trojans survive.
"I knew my team was counting on me," Braddock said. "I was struggling on the first four and I had to trust my process. It ended out working out for the best and I got the stop."
Olsen said it was a fitting ending for two players who shook off the disappointment from 2017. In fact, he said he told Rose he was going to win a game for New Hope in penalty kicks. He said he also told Braddock before the shootout that he believed in him.
"When it came down to the time we needed them, he came up big," Olsen said.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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