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05 / 18

Kick this Around – A Lansing United Blog

WRITTEN BY: Dave Ellis
PUBLISHED ON: May 18, 2015

So just as the second 15 minutes of injury time weas about to finish last Wednesday, the referee’s observer who was sitting in front of the pressbox at Archer Stadium turned around and suggested something to the staff.

“You should kick everybody outside the gates right now, and tell them they have to pay again to come back inside for the penalty kicks.”

Not that we would have ever done that, but even if we did, you could not have said you still did not get your money’s worth that night.

Lansing United’s win over RWB Adria in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup had everyone in the stands on a knife edge of emotion for almost three hours. We saw Adria hit the crossbar, shots that were inches away from denting the twine, and colorful characters on both sides of the field who gave their all for 120 minutes of action. All before we witnessed the drama of penalty kicks for the first time in the history of the club.

Usually our media staff is fully prepared for anything that happens on the field, and they can turn around the information and pass it along on social media or to the reporters in the pressbox with a minimum of lag time. But as the clock counted toward the end of extra time, we were presented with a scenario that we had not dealt with yet. And a major part of what was about to happen would be decided with a coin flip, leaving no time to react after it happened.

Which end would the penalty shootout take place?

Fortunately we had a GoPro video unit with us for the first time, so the strategy was to send that to the south goal. We quickly rigged up our interview camera just in case the kicks would take place in the north goal. With a camera already rolling atop the pressbox, we felt like we were covered. Until the U.S. Soccer observer/commissioner onsite reminded us that no one could stand behind the goal for any action. That camera would have to be unmanned.

Our intern Nick had two choices at this point: he could just start the camera rolling and assume he had done his job, or he could get creative and try to go the extra step. So he pulled out his iPhone and began shooting short video clips that he tweeted out after each kick. People would later tell us that they followed the entire shootout in as close to real-time, a great complement to some fast thinking.

In the meantime, your public address announcer went back to the south goal to retrieve the GoPro, taking the numerical roster along so he could still announce who was taking kicks. Starting with the fourth kicker for Adria, we knew the contest could end after any of the remaining shots, but we had no idea what we would be doing once that happened – we were just as anxious as the crowd and the players.

Then Yves Nzwanga scored.

The players sprinted to him in the far corner, right to the waiting iPhone. The GoPro came along for a sprint from midfield to jump right into the pile, just like the fans who spilled onto the field and the cameras atop the pressbox and inside the net kept running too. About 45 minutes later, the media relations staff sat down to look at what we had.

To our delight, the last second decision on where to put the camera inside the net was the best possible place for it to be for the decisive spot kicks. Quinn McAnaney’s save on the first penalty was right on line with the angle of the camera shot, as was the winning score. The iPhone footage was perfectly placed, and the above angle showed the scope of the pile as fans and players alike celebrated. With some quick uploads and phone calls, we managed to get all the local TV stations something they could run on the late newscasts that night. As one of our interns put it, “The fact that we spontaneously put together four-camera coverage of one of the most important 10 minutes in club history still baffles me.”

Our media relations staff was just as proud as the players after the match. Just as they came through in the pressure-packed penalty shootout, we delivered the goods when we needed to in covering it.

And we get another chance to do it all over again in the second round on Wednesday.

Just to be safe…bring that extra cash with you.