The Journal Gazette
Saturday, October 17, 2020 4:30 pm

Goalkeeper leads Cavaliers to regional finals

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

CONVERSE -- When Canterbury and Leo went into penalty kicks after 94 scoreless minutes at the Oak Hill boys soccer regional semifinal this morning, Cavaliers goalkeeper Saed Anabtawi was slated to take his PK fifth. 

But he and coach Greg Mauch had an arrangement: If Anabtawi made a save in goal, then he could turn around and take his shot. 

It would come to fruition, and then some, in the Cavaliers' 1-0 victory.

Leo senior Carter Bond took the first kick, sneaking it past Anabtawi, and Canterbury senior Zachary Tempel answered with a laser of a shot into the net to tie the PKs at 1. 

But Anabtawi dove to his left and blocked Leo's second penalty, which was taken by senior Jack Gibson. Canterbury junior John Shoppell then hit his penalty to put the Cavs ahead 2-1. 

Leo sophomore Alex McKinney's tap to the bottom right corner of the net kept the Cavs alive for another round, and Canterbury senior Yahya Jan maintained the Cavs' advantage by making his penalty.

When the fourth Leo player, senior Lorenzo Scanu, took his shot, Anabtawi dove to his right to block the shot with his body. Scanu covered his face with his jersey as Anabtawi walked out in front of the goal to take his own shot. 

"That was his call. He looked at me, and I said, 'That one's yours,'" Mauch said after the match. "Because his adrenaline is flying at that point."

Anabtawi took aim at the top left-hand corner of the goal, beyond the reach of Leo junior keeper Jaden Moreland. Anabtawi's goal meant the Cavaliers (11-4-5) won 4-2 in penalty kicks and would advance to the Oak Hill regional finals against Yorktown at 7 p.m. As it hit the back of the net, he turned and raced toward his teammates, who ran on the field to congratulate him. 

"I was pretty confident in myself and my teammates. We've been training really hard this season, and we really deserve to be here," Anabtawi said. "I stayed confident in myself, my ability to play, and I also stayed confident in my teammates. I knew they would make their shots."

Anabtawi said that his two saved penalty kicks just felt like pure adrenaline. He said he didn't want to take his shot after his first save because he was confident he could make another. 

"It's pretty different, striking the ball and saving the ball. You have to keep your composure on both sides. Be confident, as I've said many times, and believe in yourself," Anabtawi said. "Just picture it where it's going. And that's what happened."

Mauch said it's a lot easier to feel confident in his team when Anabtawi is in goal. 

"We see him stopping PKs in practice every day," Mauch said. "He's a quality keeper, he's the best I've seen in the state in two years."

Leo finished the season 13-4-1. 


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