Tim Boyer is something of a penalty kick specialist. Susquehannock’s senior goalkeeper estimated he’s been in 15 shootouts in his lifetime, and he’s never lost a single one.
He was stellar again for the Warriors when they needed him most Saturday. After a 0-0 stalemate through regulation and overtime, Boyer saved two of the three penalty kicks he faced to help Susquehannock to a 4-1, penalty-kick win against Schuylkill Valley in the District 3, Class AA quarterfinals at Hempfield High School.
Stopping penalty kicks is especially tough for a keeper, who often has to guess or make a split second decision as to which side the kick taker will boot the ball.
So what does Boyer look for when he’s facing a penalty kick? He said he watches the kicker’s feet to read where the ball is going.
“What I kind of do, is I’m mostly down the middle of the goal, and I look where they’re plant foot is and their knee, where it swings out,” Boyer said.
But Boyer didn’t need to guess right to stop the Panthers’ first attempt. He dove right, but stuck out his leg to save a shot that was going right down the middle. He almost stopped Schuylkill Valley’s lone conversion, guessing right and tipping Brian Robertson’s shot into the right side of the net.
“That first one I got lucky,” Boyer said. “He hit it down the middle and I stuck my foot out.”
Mostly, being successful during penalty kicks takes a strong mind and the ability to stay cool under pressure.
“Tim Boyer just stays so relaxed in difficult situations,” Susquehannock coach Will Whitty said. “It just helps him to maintain his focus and just focus on the basics.”
What about the other end of the coin? Susquehannock’s penalty kick takers were a perfect 4-for-4 with their penalties Saturday. Whitty said he goes with his gut when it comes to choosing kick takers.
“You look at their faces and see who really wants to do it,” Whitty said. “That’s a trick my assistant in college taught me. Sometimes there’s guys you know who will finish 10-for-10 but if they put their head down, you can’t pick them.
“You’re looking for guys who will look at you, who want to score badly. And you put them on the line.”