Coach Andy Byrd’s Lady Raiders triumphed over the District 5-AAA Champion Lady Cavaliers in a penalty-kick shoot-out after the two teams had tied at 1-1 through two 40-minute periods, gone scoreless through two 10-minute overtime periods and remained scoreless through two five-minute sudden-death periods.
The shoot-out pits the top five kickers (shooters) from each team in one-on-one kicks against the opposing team’s goalkeeper. There is a PK (penalty kick) mark 12 yards in front of the goal.
The Lady Raiders’ perfection in the shoot-out determined the winner. Cleveland made four consecutive penalty kicks after Cookeville had missed its first two attempts. With the fourth successful kick, the Lady Raiders conceded a goal to the Lady Cavaliers on their fifth and final kick for a 4-3 victory in the shoot-out. Cleveland had a fifth kick if it had been needed.
The thrilling overtime victory lifts the Lady Raiders into tonight’s 7 p.m. Region 3-AAA championship match at Soddy-Daisy. Both of tonight’s finalists will advance to Saturday’s TSSAA sectionals, against a foe and at a site to be determined.
“It was a great match and we had several people who played well,” Byrd said after the conclusion of the multiple-overtime thriller. “We did what we had to do to win.”
“Jenna Stewart had the night of her life,” the Cleveland coach said in praise of one of his seven seniors.
“Alison Simpson had some great saves (as well as one block in the shoot-out ),” Byrd continued. “I’ll take Alison in a shoot-out against anyone.”
The Lady Raiders’ coach also praised the play of senior Katelyn McChesney, who was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year last week at the District 5-AAA final.
Others who enjoyed strong performances included Leanne Indovino, Bayleigh Ellis, Devon Vaughn, Megan Baker, McKenzie Harris, Kaitlyn Poulakis, Cayla Hickey and Ashley Gallo.
Byrd anticipates his girls may have tired legs in tonight’s match at Soddy-Daisy. The Lady Trojans were an easy winner over 6-AAA runner-up Warren County on Wednesday.
“We’ll probably have to go to our bench more and use some of our younger kids,” Byrd said. “Still, our girls know what’s on the table.”
A win by the Lady Raiders in tonight’s region final could put the Cleveland team in a home sectional at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex on Mouse Creek Road. If Cleveland loses to the Lady Trojans for the third time this season, it will probably travel to the mid-state area again.
Wednesday’s thriller was close from start to finish. The Lady Raiders had 16 shots on goal, while the Lady Cavaliers had 10. Simpson had six saves, while Skyler Smith had eight for the home team.
Harris scored Cleveland’s lone goal early in the first half. Located in front of the goal between teammates Ellis and McChesney, Harris took a perfect penalty kick from Poulakis on the short hop and put the ball into the net.
There were other opportunities for both teams, but the halftime score remained 1-0.
The host Lady Cavaliers got even in the second half when senior Ariel Vinson got loose on a breakaway down the left side. Her left-footed kick bounced into the left side of the net.
Cookeville was at the net with a chance to score during the final seconds of the first 10-minute overtime, but time ran out before the ball could find the net.
Cleveland also had some chances in the overtime periods, but couldn’t connect.
Cookeville closed out its 2010 season with a 13-4 record, with two of those losses to Cleveland. The Lady Raiders improved to 13-7-2 with the shoot-out victory.
Fans at Wednesday’s match gathered along the fence to watch the penalty-kick shoot-out.
Cookeville went first, and senior Karlyn Brown hit the ball into Simpson’s arms. McChesney, the team captain, led off for the Lady Raiders and connected on a low shot to the left of the goalkeeper. The Lady Cavaliers then missed again when Janna Yoother’s kick was wide to the right. Stewart added to her standout performance with a kick for a 2-0 Cleveland lead.
Kelsey Roberson scored Cookeville’s first goal, but it was offset by Poulakis. Alana Stein got a second goal for the home team, but Harris’ kick made it four consecutive for the Lady Raiders and ended the match, the season and the hopes of the Cookeville team.