More often than not, Daniel Carillo knows where a penalty kick is going.
The East Hall High soccer sophomore claims it’s a gut feeling, something he can pick up on just from looking opposing players in the eyes, and not necessarily based on their movements.
As a backup, though, he has been able to put that predictive prowess into practice only from afar, like when his signals helped starting keeper Oscar Rosas make three crucial penalty kick saves in the Region 7-3A championship match three weeks ago.
But when Carillo got a chance to make such stops himself Wednesday, May 2, he didn’t shy away from the moment.
Forced into action near halftime because of injury, Carillo allowed just one regulation goal and saved two penalty kicks as the Vikings emerged from their wild Class 3A second-round playoff game against Coahulla Creek with a 4-4 (4-2) win at East Hall Stadium in Gainesville.
“I wasn’t really feeling any nerves,” said Carillo, who had never faced penalty shots at the varsity level before Wednesday. “I just had a feeling where the guys were going to go with their kicks, and I knew it wasn’t going to end like this.”
With the win, top-seeded East Hall (14-2-3) advanced to the state quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive year. Due to a GHSA coinflip to assign home-field advantage in the quarterfinals for all spring sports, the Vikings will host fellow No. 1 seed Windsor Forest at a time to be determined Saturday.
Third-ranked East Hall rallied from deficits three times in regulation Wednesday, starting when Maury Ibarra — who buried the clinching penalty kick — scored a pair of goals to dig his team out of an early 2-0 hole.
“We just kept fighting back,” Vikings coach Chris Horton said. “We weren’t always 100 percent, but no team is at this time of year. But we were able to stay fresh with our subbing and keep our level of play up late into the game.”
That was a good thing, Horton noted, given how the game started.
The Vikings fell behind on an own goal while trying to clear a cross about two minutes into the contest, and the third-seeded Colts (13-6) added another goal 12 minutes later courtesy of Jaime Mendiola.
But Ibarra quickly provided the jolt East Hall needed, turning a nice feed from Sergio Turcios into a goal less than two minutes later. Then, with 11 minutes, 23 seconds until halftime, he booted an arcing shot from about 30 yards away over the outstretched hand of Coahulla Creek’s keeper and into the back of the net to tie the game.
“Maury can play about four or five positions, and we moved him around a lot,” Horton said. “He knew what needed to be done, and he did it tonight.”
The seventh-ranked Colts, however, scored with 1:42 remaining in the first half when Ronaldo Medina tapped in Ozzy Pintor’s well-placed cross back into the box.
Rosas took an elbow to the head while trying to defend the shot, causing him to leave the game. Though Horton said his starting keeper didn’t show signs of a concussion, he cautiously opted to leave Carillo in goal for the rest of the game.
“I was hoping (Rosas) would come back on,” Carillo said. “He’s a great goalkeeper, and I’ve learned so much from him. We’re there for each other and he has helped me out a lot, so I didn’t want to let him or any of the seniors down.”
The Vikings received an equalizer about seven minutes after the break when Turcios fielded a pass from Jairo Valdez near the 18-yard box, spun right and simply outran his defender before delivering a strike to the far post.
The tie didn’t last long. Francisco Medina wrangled a loose ball from players jostling just outside the box and whipped it off the hands of a diving Carillo to put Coahulla Creek ahead 4-3 in the 51st minute.
East Hall created several good chances for yet another equalizer over the next 20 minutes before finally breaking through with 7:38 to play.
After the Vikings earned a corner kick from the right side, Turcios’ curling ball deflected off the Colts’ goalie and landed at the feet of David Menchaca, who nudged it in to send the home crowd into a frenzy.
East Hall had a few more opportunities to score during the pair of five-minute overtime periods but eventually settled for penalty kicks with its season on the line.
Coahulla Creek’s first two penalty shots got by Carillo before the sophomore made his stand. He dove to his left to save the third attempt with his hands, and the fourth kick went careening off his foot.
“Daniel is great,” Horton said. “When we played Greater Atlanta Christian (for the region championship), he was pointing out to Oscar which way guys were going to go. He reads things really well … so we knew he’d be able to guess right tonight.”
Carillo’s teammates, meanwhile, had little trouble making their penalty shots.
Turcios fooled the keeper on East Hall’s first attempt before Freddy Rebollar, Carlos Pulido and Ibarra followed suit as the Vikings won yet another thriller in penalty kicks.
This time, however, Carillo was a bit more involved.
“Against GAC, I was kind of a cheat code for Oscar,” Carillo said. “I used those same feelings this time. I can look at players and just tell sometimes, and I had those gut feelings tonight.”