Don’t call it a comeback.
Kentwood scored in the sixth minute of stoppage time to rally from a 2-0 deficit and force overtime, but Wenatchee prevailed in a shootout on the fifth penalty kick to claim a 3-2 win over the Conks in the first round of the 4A boys soccer state tournament Wednesday night at French Field.
Kentwood senior Andre Slyter snatched the ball from a defender eight yards in front of the net seconds before the end of stoppage play and drove it home to tie the score at 2-2.
Three straight shots by the Conquerors midway through the first overtime period nearly ended it, but Wenatchee goalkeeper Raphael Jimenez made multiple clutch saves.
Once the match reached penalty kicks, it was Jimenez who stopped Kentwood’s fifth shot after both teams converted the first four.
Josef Johnson then lined up for Wenatchee and sent the Panthers to the second round with the winning PK.
A bus breakdown on I-90 delayed Wenatchee’s arrival and pushed kickoff back more than an hour, but that hardly slowed the Panthers’ offense in the first half.
Both teams entered Wednesday’s matchup having surpassed 50 goals this season, and the Panthers came out firing on all cylinders. Wenatchee held possession throughout the opening half, peppering the net with 10 shots and forcing Kentwood goalkeeper Sahr Moiwo to snag six saves.
Luis Navarette broke through for the Panthers in the 34th minute of play, as he lined a 25-yard shot down the center of the field into the net.
Kentwood took three quick shots to open the second half and nearly tied the score, but a few minutes later a foul in the box set up Navarette’s second goal on a penalty kick for Wenatchee.
The Conquerors pulled back within one in the 65th minute, as Tucker Davidson’s long shot scraped the base of the crossbar and dropped just past the line. That goal reignited the home team’s offense, as Kentwood out-shot Wenatchee 8-1 the rest of regulation.
Several Kentwood near-misses and a couple saves by Jimenez kept it a one-score contest until Slyter’s stoppage-time equalizer.
The win improved Wenatchee’s record to 12-7 and set up the Panthers for a second-round matchup against Lewis and Clark.
4A SPSL Northeast champion Kentwood’s season comes to an end with a 15-2-1 overall record.