PUMPKIN CENTER — The North Lincoln Lady Knights varsity soccer team took their first-round playoff game to a 3-3 tie after regulation play, through 30 minutes of overtime and into penalty kicks against the Wheatmore Lady Warriors on Thursday.
Wheatmore scored three of its penalty kicks while North Lincoln managed only two, and the Lady Knights’ season was ended in a dramatic fashion.
The star of North Lincoln’s game was senior goalkeeper Calli Brown, who had 26 saves during the game and staved off what would have been a lopsided victory for Wheatmore had she not met nearly every offensive challenge from the Lady Warriors.
The Lady Warriors forged a 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game when Lexa Wall crossed the ball to Paige Hudson, who buried a shot into the left side of the net.
The Lady Knights made short gains when they possessed the ball in the first half, and moved the ball forward only to pass it backward moments later or were challenged and lost possession to the Lady Warriors.
The Lady Knights made their first run on the Wheatmore goal at the 27-minute mark. Junior Janet Lopez carried the ball down the left side of the field, easily outrunning her Wheatmore defender, and made a pass to forward Brooke Anderson. Anderson’s shot landed squarely into the hands of the Wheatmore goalkeeper.
North Lincoln knotted the game at 1-1 after 20 minutes of back-and-forth play. Lopez’s shot-on-goal from the right side of the field was batted away by Wheatmore’s goalkeeper, but Nicole Barbieri was in place for the follow-up shot and the goal.
Wheatmore took their next possession down the field, but North Lincoln defender Rebecca Pearce knocked Wheatmore’s Abigail Byrd aside and allowed Brown to fall on the ball for the save.
The Lady Warriors nearly took a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes left in the first half after a corner kick and a goal by Wall, but the referee called an offensive push and the goal was removed.
Wheatmore suffered another missed opportunity early in the second half.
North Lincoln’s was called for a penalty in the goal box that set up a penalty kick by Emmie Granthan. Grantham dribbled a shot wide to the right that ended the threat, and gave North Lincoln’s offense a new life.
The Lady Knights took a 2-1 lead moments later when junior forward Sharla Sugierski threaded a pass through the middle of the goal box to Barbieri, who buried a shot into the net.
Less than a minute later, Wheatmore tied the game at 2-2 with a goal by Candice Lockhart off of a deflection. The Lady Warriors then took a 3-2 lead when Alexis Rowell made a run up the middle of the field and knocked in a shot from just inside the 18-yard line.
With just over two minutes left in regulation time, North Lincoln senior midfielder Melissa Lenentine logged a solo goal to tie the game at 3-3.
The teams were both relatively quiet during the two 10-minute and two five-minute golden-goal overtime periods.
Barbieri threatened twice for the Lady Knights during the first overtime period, but waited too long to make a shot both times and was met by the Wheatmore goalkeeper.
Brown added another save during the first golden-goal period when she leaped straight up into the air to pull down a shot by Wall just before time expired.
The Lady Knights sent Lenentine, Anna Jackson, Abby Labar, Sarah Barr and Sugierski to the line to take their penalty kicks.
Sugierski’s opening shot went high, and Wheatmore’s Hudson sent her shot sailing past Brown for a 1-0 lead.
Barr aimed her shot to the left of Wheatmore’s goalkeeper to even the score at 1-1. Hannah Ryan made it 2-1 for Wheatmore, but Lenentine’s shot to the left side of the goal evened the score at 2-2.
Wall’s shot for Wheatmore hit the crossbar and bounced away, but Labar’s shot also went high and the teams were tied at 2-2.
Jackon’s shot went high, but Granthan buried her shot in the net, bringing her Wheatmore teammates streaming off of the bench and onto the field.