Rider Falls in Title Game Shootout

The Rider Raiders fought valiantly, but came up just short against San Antonio Alamo Heights in the Class 4A Soccer State Championship.

They were tied at one after regulation, then at two at the end of overtime, but dropped a shootout 3-2 to decide the title.

Heights goalie Zack Jones stopped Cal Johnson's final shootout attempt to seal the game, and take home MVP honors.

Heights scored first in the shootout when Diego Hernandez beat Rider goalie Drake Szczepinski, then Jones denied Jonathan Munoz. Szczepinski stopped his second shot, and Minsung Park scored to tie things at one.

Alek Strimple went next for Heights and scored to make it 2-1, and Rider star Christian Okeke could not answer, stopped by Jones.

Luke Donnelly then scored for Heights to make it 3-1, but Nathan Van De Vyvere answered to make it 3-2 and Szczepinski came up with another save.

But with the game on the line, Jones stopped Johnson's attempt to end the game.

"It can be an amazing game, but at times it seems like it can be a cruel game," Rider head coach Josh Hill said.

The Mules (30-2-1) scored in the fifth minute of the game, with Matthew Struble converting a header for the lead.

That was the score entering the halftime intermission, but Rider came out for the second half on a mission.

After several attempts were stymied, Okeke fired a hard, low shot past Jones and in to the right corner of the net for his 38th goal of the season in the 43rd minute to tie the game.

It went to overtime tied at 1, then it appeared the Raiders had pulled out the win.

Johnson converted a great feed from Colton Kowalick for his second tally of the season in the 85th minute, putting Rider up 2-1 and just 15 minutes from a win.

But the very next minute Rider was called for a penalty in their goal box, giving Alamo Heights a penalty kick. This time Szczepinski could not guess correctly, and Strimple buried it to re-tie the game.

Rider finishes the year at 28-3 overall.

"Those guys game me everything they had," Hill said.

Thirteen Rider senior suited up for the last time.

"I wouldn't trade this team for anything," senior goalkeeper Drake Szczepinski said. "I love every single guy on this team."