CSCS’ MacKay scores on late penalty kick to send Lions to semifinals of 3A boys’ soccer state tournament

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Photo - CSCS defender Levi Smith kicks the ball down field against Delta’s Brandon Harper Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, during the first half of the 3A regional soccer playoff at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. CSCS won 3-2 to advance. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
CSCS defender Levi Smith kicks the ball down field against Delta’s Brandon Harper Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, during the first half of the 3A regional soccer playoff at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. CSCS won 3-2 to advance. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Just when things looked uncertain, the Colorado Springs Christian School boys’ soccer team got a blessing.

That’s how senior Tanner MacKay described his late-game penalty-kick goal that lifted the Lions to a 3-2 win over Delta at UCCS’ Mountain Lion Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state tournament. CSCS returns to the semifinals for the second consecutive year.

The Lions will play Liberty Common of Fort Collins on Wednesday afternoon.

“That PK was a blessing,” said MacKay, who scored two goals in the Lions’ 13th straight win. “I kept myself level-headed and put the ball in the back of the net to make it 3-2.”

The Lions (16-2) were up 2-0 after MacKay streaked down the right side about 30 seconds into the second half and kicked in a goal. But Delta (14-3-1) calmly responded and tied it up within the next 15 minutes, thanks to scores from Nathan Downey and Brandon Harper.

Then, in the 68th minute, CSCS forward Ethan Campagna was fouled just inside the box, setting up MacKay’s go-ahead goal. From there, the Lions stepped up their defense — which was anchored by goalkeeper Josh Erickson’s eight saves.

Michael Benthem scored in the fifth minute after a deflected shot  to give the Lions an early 1-0 lead.

“No coach wants a game to come down to a penalty kick, but at the end of the day, if it’s a foul, you gotta call it,” Lions coach Jason Rollins said. “I felt like it was a legitimate foul. It gave us an opportunity to go ahead and here we are.”

CSCS hopes to get some redemption after losing 2-0 to Kent Denver in last season’s semifinals.

This season, the Lions have dominated with seven shutouts. In their first two playoff games, they outscored Fountain Valley and Dawson School 12-2.

“We haven’t had the test we had like this for a while,” Rollins said about Saturday’s game against Delta. “We needed this test going into the semifinals knowing what it’s like going into a tight game.”