A penalty shootout was what it took to separate the New Berlin girls soccer teams in a WIAA playoff on June 9, with the Vikings from West coming away with a 5-4 shootout win after a 2-2 draw.
The crucial kick came when West goalkeeper Mary Moczulewski saved Sara Farrell's penalty. The Lions could never overcome that miss, and West's Morgan Henrichs ended it by scoring the last kick of the match.
'It feels like I won a million dollars,' Moczulewski said. 'I just went for it. This is the best thing I could ever ask for. I knew we could do it.'
'Shootouts are a crapshoot,' Eisenhower coach Nick Datka said. 'I'd rather sit here and play 10-minute periods until somebody scores a goal than tell somebody they have to line up and take kicks from the mark. It kind of sucks for anybody who misses it or your keeper, but I don't make the soccer rule book.'
Eisenhower started the match well, dominating possession and creating an early chance when Emma Grellinger took a centering pass from Meghan McNerney and struck it off the post. Moczulewski also saved a couple of shots from McNerney to keep the match level at 0-0.
West finally broke through with a little over eight minutes left in the half on a through ball from Courtney Stephens that Lily Adkison slid past Eisenhower keeper Ava Seifert.
West coach Matt Drago was pleased.
'Courtney Stephens had a perfect ball into the eighteen with great pace,' he said. 'They didn't come out as hard as we expected. We came out a little tame, which is surprising considering they always want to play Ike, and I'm sure Ike always wants to play us. It turned around when they calmed down, connected a few passes and were able to play.'
Datka talked about West's goal.
'In the first half we had a lot of pace,' Datka said. 'We just made one mistake defensively that they were able to capitalize on. They have a good forward, and that's what good forwards do — they capitalize on your mistakes. All the wind was sucked out of our sails when they scored that goal, and we just had to re-energize and refocus them.'
Popp ties match
Eisenhower responded in the second half. First, Sarah Rolefson was fouled in the box, and Claire Popp converted the penalty to equalize for her team. Then, midway through the half, McNerney sent in a midrange strike that found its way into the upper corner of the net to put the Lions up 2-1.
'It was a good strike,' Datka said. 'She stepped up to it with confidence. She saw the ball sitting there, and she was able to place it home. It was well read by her and well finished.'
Moczulewski added, 'I thought maybe I could have positioned myself better and jumped higher. (My team) just wanted to keep going forward, and we did.'
The final twist in the match came in the 89th minute, when Seifert charged down a ball in the Eisenhower box that resulted in a multiplayer collision. After initially allowing play to continue, the ref awarded a penalty kick to West. Stephens stepped up to take it and tied the game at 2-2. Neither team could score in the two extra time periods, sending the match into a shootout.
Eisenhower, the top seed, finished their season at 13-7-3, and are already looking forward to next season.
'We're a very young team this year,' said Datka. 'We started seven or eight underclassmen, and so we know we're on the up and up. We're hoping to learn from the pain that comes with this type of a game and make it better for us next year.'