Lorretto, Penn.—In their first tournament appearance in four years, the Sacred Heart Women's Soccer Team falls to the No. 1 seed Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash in dramatic fashion following a penalty kick shootout.
With hopes to advance, both teams came out strong, battling through 90 minutes of regulation play. There was a lot of back and forth action due to the hardworking defenses. Sacred Heart and Saint Francis were on each other's heels in the close game. The Pioneers narrowly outshot the Red Flash 12-11 with Ashley Moore (Levittown, N.Y.) and Kristin Verrette (Saugus, Mass.) leading the team and combining for seven shots, but Saint Francis had a few more on goal as SHU goalkeeper Sydney Judkins (South Park, Penn.) recorded six saves and SFU goalie Brianna Butcher made three.
With 10 minutes left in regulation, Sacred Heart goalkeeper Judkins was put to the test. The first, just inside the 80th minute, Saint Francis junior Jennifer Brennan came close to finding the net, but Judkins made a huge diving save to protect the shut out. Nine minutes later, with only seconds to play in regulation, freshman Mackenzie Walter made another attack on the Sacred Heart goal for the game, but it was wide as the ball skidded just left of the goal.
Three minutes into the first overtime, Sacred Heart came close to scoring twice on back-to-back corner kicks. The first resulted with a header that sent the ball colliding with the goalpost and back into play. The second, taken by Alyssa Brandofino (East Northport, N.Y.), ended with another header on goal this time from junior Jen Mulvey (Manalapan, N.J.). Unfortunately the ball was straight Butcher.
Shortly after, it was the Red Flash's turn to turn on the heat as junior Tesa McKibben broke away from the pack and sent a cross towards goal, but her teammate could not make good on the opportunity as the ball trailed away.
Both goalkeepers recorded shutouts as neither team could find the net through 110 minutes, so it was time for penalty kicks.
Emotions were high as Judkins took her position between the posts to receive the first PK of the day from Brennan. The kick was good and it was time for Sacred Heart's Mulvey to step up to the ball. Her shot also found the back of the neck. The next two kicks for each team would be saved by the goalies. Judkins would make a save blocking a shot to the lower right corner by Alecia McNiff, and a diving save to keep a Traci Flick shot from going in. Butcher would make a save to the right side to prevent Amanda Stiles's kick from scoring, and a diving save to Brandofino's. Both teams would rebound and make their next two shots respectively sending the game into sudden death.
Katy LaBella would step up for the Red Flash. She pushed the ball right past Judkins to give Saint Francis the advantage. Now, it was all up to junior Elizabeth Stewart (Seaford, N.Y.). Stewart tried to place the ball, but Butcher was right there to stop it securing the win and advancement for the Red Flash.