Lee Horton had coached a thousand or two football games, and he knew what it meant to decide a penalty game.
“Penalty kicks can be a cruel fate,” Horton said.
And so was Horton, whose 37-year career as a football coach at Charlotte Latin ended Saturday night with the Hawks losing the private schools 4A state championship game to Providence Day – in a calculation that ended six hours after it started.
It was the third straight time Providence Day defeated Latin in the 4A women’s soccer final, and it sent Horton into retirement with more than a dozen men’s and women’s soccer state championships and more than 1,000 wins. career at Charlotte Latin.
“When it comes to penalty shootouts, a lot of things can happen,” Horton said. “The Providence Day keeper made two great saves.”
The Chargers (18-4) and Charlotte Latin (17-3) played scoreless football for 80 minutes of regulation time and 30 additional minutes of overtime. Providence Day went on to beat the Hawks 3-1 in the penalty shootout.
“We have two of the best goaltenders in the state,” Providence Day coach Dan Dudley said when asked if he was nervous before the shootout. “And Addie came for us.”
It’s Addie Holgorsen, a senior who is on a Clemson commitment but has played much of the season with a shoulder injury. As usual, Dudley fired junior Sydney McCorkle into the goal for the first half and then put Holgorsen in the game.
In the shootout, Holgorsen stopped Ella Smith’s shot on the Hawks’ first down, then fended off a searing shot from Avery Cheatwood on fourth down. That landed him for the Chargers, as Kate Cater, Blane McElroy and Stephanie Zawtocki each made their attempts.
When the game ended, Horton immediately approached and consoled Latin goalkeeper Mary Schleusner, who made several important saves during regulation time. Schleusner, a defenseman for much of the season, was moved to base during the playoffs after regular goaltender Maddie Shannon was injured.
“Mary made some big saves for us, just like their two goalies (Providence Day) did for them,” Horton said. “It was a great game between two great teams.”
It was also a long game.
The teams kicked off at 2 p.m. at neutral ground on Charlotte Country Day, but the game was called off after less than 12 minutes when thunderstorms rolled it. Play did not resume until three hours later.
“We handed out snacks, we played charades…we did what we could to keep ourselves busy while we waited,” Dudley said. “This match took so long that I had to ask one of the girls what day it was. I had forgotten.
Dudley said the Hawks dominated his team before the lightning delay.
“The delay gave us a chance to regroup, and I think we came out strong afterwards,” he said.
The first half was largely defensive. The second half was the polar opposite, with each team getting several great chances.
“I don’t know how many times our shots hit the side of the net,” Horton said. “As I said, football can be cruel.”
Horton said his retirement will include golf, traveling with his wife and spending time with his grandchildren.
“But I will come back to watch football,” he said. “These two teams have a bright future. I can’t wait to watch.
PHOTOS: Charlotte Latin vs. Providence Day