A Boise player touched the soccer ball in the box, awarding Post Falls a penalty kick 28 minutes into the State 5A championship match Saturday.
Post Falls coach Gabe Lawson knew immediately who he wanted to take the shot – the guy who missed the first shot in a shootout two days earlier - senior captain Brady Ulen.
Given a second chance, Ulen planted the ball in the back of the net, and Post Falls knocked off the defending champion Boise Braves 3-0 at Coeur d’Alene High School.
“The reason he missed (Thursday) is he second-guessed himself and changed what he was going to do,” Lawson said. “Normally, he just blasts the ball because he has a cannon for a foot. I knew if we had an opportunity for another PK he’d crush the ball.”
Post Falls (17-1-1) dominated during the state tournament, shutting out its three opponents.
“I want my leader to step up in that pressure situation,” Lawson said.
Trojans all over the field stepped up. In the last minute of the first half, junior forward Timmy Mueller had a free kick from 40 yards out. The arcing ball sailed over the first line of defense, ducking into the goal just under the cross bar. Boise’s goalie never had a chance.
“I’ve been practicing putting some bend on it and some dip on it,” Mueller said. “These are the moments I’ve dreamed about – getting a free kick in a state championship match.”
Even though Post Falls led 2-0 at intermission, Mueller knew Post Falls couldn’t sit back and be passive. He frequently reminded his teammates that they needed one more goal in the final 40 minutes.
No sooner had Mueller said that out loud near the Trojans’ bench that he got a steal, dribbled and let a shot fly just under the crossbar for the final goal in the 56th minute.
“That’s the worst score in soccer, 2-0,” Mueller said. “If they get a goal, they only need one more and then they have the momentum. A 3-0 lead gives us a little cushion.”
A three-year starter, Mueller, a junior, isn’t likely to return next year. He plans to try out next spring for the Seattle Sounders Academy and will likely spend his senior year in the Seattle area.
So capturing a state title will be a memory Mueller will long cherish.
“This is the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” Mueller said. “It beats any club win. It was just us and we did it as a team. It makes going to summer workouts at 6 in the morning well worth it.”
Ulen, a four-year starter and the central defender in the Trojans’ defense, also will relish the title.
“We didn’t expect to shut out every team, but we expected to win,” Ulen said. “It means the world to me.”`