with gallery: Huron girls soccer gets penalty-kick victory over Pioneer, Saline rolls
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All eyes were on Huron High School goalkeeper Katie Yeatts as she stepped into the net to face Pioneer’s Jenny Fichera in the fifth round of penalty kicks.
Yeatts' team was trailing 4-3 in kicks and, if she didn’t make a save, the River Rats' season was over.
“I just had to keep telling myself I could do this, we’d practiced this and I knew I had to keep my team in the game and keep my head in the game,” said Yeatts. “You can look at their eyes, you can look at their hips, but it’s a split-second decision. You never really know.”
Yeatts decision to cover the bottom-right corner of the goal turned out to be the right one. She made the save and kept her team alive, just like she had all game long.
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
The River Rats went on to win the shootout, 6-5, and the game, 3-2, in a Division 1 district semifinal at Skyline High School.
After Pioneer scored on its first four penalty kicks, Yeats stopped three of the last four.
“She’s just an outstanding keeper,” said Huron coach Max Hepburn.
“If she gives up one of those goals, she forgets about it instantly and she worries about the next one.”
Yeatts' effort allowed Huron’s Martha Schmidt to step up and bury her game-winning attempt, sending the River Rats to a district final at noon Saturday against Saline.
The Hornets beat Monroe, 4-0, in the second semifinal.
Momentum was not in the River Rats' favor entering the shootout.
After Casie Ammerman and Ify Odum scored in the first 10 minutes of the game, Huron spent the majority of the rest of the game playing defense in its own zone. Still, Huron took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
Although his team trailed at the break, Pioneer coach Sam Stern thought his team was in good shape heading into the second half.
“I was pretty pleased with how we played in the first half. I thought we missed a couple opportunities,” Stern said. “I wasn't really too nervous, and I wanted the girls to see that."
Pioneer's Emily Turner cut the lead in half in the 48th minute and Lena Katterman tied the game from 40 yards out in the 72nd minute.
“The girls were patient and we finished our chances in the second half,” said Stern.
With the momentum on Pioneer’s side, Hepburn reminded his team to keep its composure and good things would happen. After two scoreless overtime sessions, the game was decided by penalty kicks.
“Winning is all about just grinding it out,” said Hepburn. “In the playoffs you have to dig deep within yourself and the players did.”
The game was a rematch from just two weeks ago, when Pioneer won 1-0. In that game, Hepburn talked about his team learning from the experience and using it in the playoffs.
With the shoe on the other foot now, Stern plans to do the same.
“It’s an invaluable memory, it’s an invaluable experience,” Stern said. “The memory alone is enough to motivate you for the pre-season and going into next season.”
Yeatts and her teammates, on the other hand, hope they can use their own motivation to keep their season going.
“It feels great. The main thing is pride,” said Yeatts. “We have been working for this moment and we knew we could get here. To prove it to everyone else, it just feels great.”
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
Huron will have another chance at revenge when it faces Saline on Saturday. The Hornets won the only matchup between the two sides earlier this season, 1-0 on May 17.
Hepburn knows what to expect in the rematch.
“I’m expecting another battle like today was. It’s really about grinding it out again,” he said.
Saline dominated late against Monroe to set up the championship rematch.
Amanda Zylstra opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a bender from outside the 18-yard box that sailed past Monroe keeper Rylie Petrangelo.
The score remained 1-0 until the Hornets strung together three goals -- by Abbey Sovitch, Caitlin Ellis and Sharmila Samaroo -- within a 12-minute span late in the second half.
Follow links to more AnnArbor.com girls soccer district coverage on MLive.com:
Division 2 at Tecumseh
Final: Milan vs. Dexter, 10 a.m. Saturday
Division 3 at Brooklyn Columbia Central
Final: Father Gabriel Richard vs. Jackson Lumen Christi, 7 p.m. Saturday
Division 4 at Riverview Gabriel Richard
Final: Rudolf Steiner vs. Riverview Gabriel Richard, 7 p.m. Friday