The Alpha Theta Pi Razorbacks defeated the Pi Gamma Delta Royals in the 2014 Turkey Bowl Saturday, Nov. 22.
Alpha had appeared in the previous two Turkey Bowls, falling to the Beta Patriots in both meetings. But this year the Razorbacks not only bested Beta in the semifinals, but also claimed the Turkey Bowl win in a thriller that kept the audience guessing throughout the entire match.
The Razorbacks headed into the final game with a record of 6-1-2, having tied the Royals 0-0 in their only previous meeting of the year.
In the semifinal game, the Razorbacks were tied 1-1 before winning in a shootout against the Patriots, as four of the first five players for each team made their penalty shots. Alpha goalkeeper, sophomore Alex Kornivskiy, then stopped the next Beta attempt, leaving it to sophomore McKinley Brown for a chance to head to the championship. Brown sank his shot into the back of the net, ushering the Razorbacks into their third straight Turkey Bowl appearance.
The Royals came into the championship with a record that included two consecutive ties at the start of the year, no losses and seven straight victories, making them the pregame favorites.
Like Alpha, the Royals also won their semifinal game in a shootout after being tied 1-1 after regulation. The Royals, playing against the Alpha Omega Delta Lions, won after having four of their five kickers make the penalty kick while the Lions had just three connect. It was Pi Gamma’s Seth Woelkers, a junior, who ended Omega’s season when he became the fourth kicker to make his shot, as he rocketed a goal into the top right corner of the net.
With both semifinal games coming down to the wire, and Alpha and Pi Gamma tying each other in their only regular season match, the Turkey Bowl was destined to be a close game.
The final game began with Alpha pressuring the Royal defense. Seven minutes in, Alpha junior Joseph Carter fired a shot that swung just left of the goal, showing the Pi Gamma defense why they must limit the scoring opportunities for Alpha.
Slowly, the Royals began to push back the Alpha offensive and started looking for their own scoring opportunities. Twenty minutes into the half, Pi Gamma was awarded a free kick that was cleared by the Razorbacks, but the Royals took another shot just seconds later, which was saved by Alpha keeper Alex Kornivskiy. Both teams moved back and forth across the field, but at halftime, the scoreboard still read 0-0.
The second half, following the trend set in the first half, was even between both teams. Alpha fired shot after shot, with each attempt going high, wide, or being stopped by the Royals goalie Stephen Laird, a sophomore who had remained consistent throughout the season. Laird stopped everything that came his way, and the Royals offense returned the favor by putting some much needed pressure on the Alpha defense. Neither team scored, however, and the game headed into overtime.
Overtime was played in a sudden death style, meaning whoever scored first won the game.
The first overtime ended after five minutes, again with neither team scoring. In the second and final overtime, Alpha freshman Toby Sims looked to score but went down in the Pi Gamma goal box, which ended with Pi Gamma escaping a tight situation and Alpha receiving a yellow card. Appropriately, the game ended in a deadlock, 0-0, and headed to a penalty kick shootout.
With all eyes on both goalie and kicker, the pressure was on to see which team would come out on top. Of the first five attempts, each team’s goalie stopped one goal apiece, one shooter on each team missed a shot, and both had three players score a goal.
The game then went to a one-and-one situation where each team would send one player to attempt a shot. If one made it and the other did not, the game would be over.
Alpha junior Spencer Pagliuca made the sixth shot, while Pi Gamma sophomore Benjamin Peeler answered by driving his shot into the right side of the net. Alpha’s Drew Hoffman, a sophomore, ripped his shot into the back of the net, forcing another Pi Gamma goal in order to tie the game. Pi Gamma freshman Paul Church, who played a big part in the Royals’ success this year, then took a well-aimed shot toward the Alpha goal. The Razorbacks’ Kornivskiy was there, however, and he made a diving save to stop the shot and claim the Turkey Bowl victory for the Alpha Theta Pi Razorbacks.