LUMBERTON — No matter the frustration that Purnell Swett goalkeeper Nick Ramirez showed following shots in the penalty kicks on Thursday at Lumberton, the junior captain showed he had a short memory.
Ramirez and the Rams were competing in penalty kicks for the second time this week against rival Lumberton as both teams were capping off three matches in one week. It came down to which team wanted it more and which keeper would come up with the big plays.
That’s where Ramirez flourished. After seven rounds in the penalty kicks, the teams were knotted at six, but it was the right place at the right time for the junior as he dove to his strong side, the right side, and stopped the incoming shot of Eloy Hernandez in the left corner of the goal giving the Rams their first win in program history over their in-county rivals by a 1-0 score.
“You have to stay positive at all times. … In PKs, it’s a 50/50 chance, so once I saw it coming to me, I just had to dive forward,” Ramirez said. “My freshman year, it was nowhere near this. This year, we feel like we had a pretty good team and we are young.”
A match decided by goalkeeper play was fitting for a contest where defensive reigned supreme as Purnell Swett (5-6-2, 3-5 SAC) and Lumberton (6-7-1, 3-4 SAC) played 90 minutes of scoreless soccer.
“I think it was two teams that were very well organized defensively,” Lumberton coach Kenny Simmons said. “The keepers made the plays they needed to make.”
Scoring attempts were limited due to defenses that would give an inch, but when there was the occasional fault in the defense, the last lines of defense were there.
“Both keepers are excellent keepers. I think they are the best two keepers in the conference facing off tonight. Thankfully the luck went our way this night and Nick made a great save there at the end,” Purnell Swett coach Alaric Strickland said. “It showed me they had heart and no quit in them. It’s been a tough week.”
While Ramirez’s one save in the penalty kicks was enough for the win, it was a save in the 63rd minute that both coaches said was a pivotal point in the match as he deflected a shot in the upper 90 over the crossbar.
“It was incredible reflexes for him to pop it and strong hand it over the net,” Strickland said.
After going scoreless through the two overtime periods, Ramirez led his team off as he took the first penalty kick and beat his counterpart Joan Carillo.
“I have to stay calm whenever I do go first and calm every time we won our PKs and every time I was in between those goal posts,” Ramirez said. “Just had to stay positive the whole time.”
On the third round, the Pirates had their first miss as Jon Von Rupp’s shot sailed wide left. The ensuing shot in the fourth round by Drake Mason was stopped by Carillo before the teams swapped goals in the next three rounds before the final save.
With each shot heading into the eight round, Ramirez had chances to end the match bounce off his glove or sail barely out of reach, but after falling to Scotland earlier in the week, he wanted redemption.
“I couldn’t let it slip away this time,” he said.
Lady Rams top Lumberton in tennis
PEMBROKE — The Purnell Swett girls tennis team completed the season sweep of Lumberton at home on Thursday with a 6-2 win.
Elysha Strickland picked up wins in singles play and doubles play for the Lady Rams with an 8-3 win in No. 4 singles and then with Harlie Scott in No. 2 doubles, 8-2. Other singles wins for Purnell Swett came from Malina Cummings, Tierra Locklear, Lauren Strickland and Mya Sampson.
“Just so, so happy for our girls. They’ve worked hard all season long and this is one of the most determined group of ladies I’ve ever coached,” Purnell Swett coach David Leek said after his team capped off its sixth match in nine days. The Lady Rams (7-5, 7-5 SAC) went 4-2 during that stretch.
“We’re in great position to finish fourth outright in the conference and we’re going to savor that.”
Lumberton’s (5-7, 5-7 SAC) Brittany Collins won in singles, while Morgan Miller and Ellen Kinlaw won in doubles.
Lady Stallions earn 4-set win over Fairmont
TABOR CITY — The South Columbus volleyball team won in four sets over Fairmont with scores of 25-13, 12-25, 25-18 and 25-17.
Mya Hunt had 15 kills and Mackenzie Johnson added 14 assists for the Lady Golden Tornadoes. Angel McNeill had 12 digs.
In other conference volleyball action, Whiteville swept Red Springs in three sets.
In the Sandhills Athletic Conference, Richmond defeated Lumberton in four sets.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.