The situation was tense enough to induce tears from Megan Lisowy.
A section championship, and trip to state, coming down to five penalty kicks. Doesn’t get much scarier than that for soccer goalkeepers.
“I was crying,” the Mahtomedi senior said, about the break before the shootout. “But I composed myself.”
Lisowy sure did. She made two diving saves against Hill-Murray, allowing just one shot of four to hit the back of the net, with one sailing over the crossbar.
The saves led to the Zephyrs 3-1 shootout win, and officially a 3-2 victory, for the Section 4A championship, in a duel between the No. 1 and 2 ranked teams in the state, in Maplewood.
‘We practice them (PK’S) a ton, and she always does very well,” coach Dave Wald said. “She has the greatest personality for it. When she saved that first shot, it really set the tone.”
Mahtomedi (13-2-2), the two-time defending state champion, will try for a third consecutive state crown after beating the Pioneers (13-3-2) in the section finals for the third straight year.
The two perennial powers deadlocked 2-2 after 80 minutes. Two 10-minute overtimes went scoreless with Hill-Murray’s goalie Sydney Stone leaping and lunging for five tough saves on scorching shots by the Zephyrs.
As both goalies arrived at the net for the shoot-out, Lisowy twice reached out and shook her counterpart’s hand. “One at a time, one at a time,” Lisowy told her.
Asked what she told herself, Lisowy said, “Just do what I’ve practiced. We practice PK’s a lot. And whatever happens happens.”
With Mahtomedi going first, Lauren Heinsch and Rachel McCleery drilled their shots into the net, Erika Broten’s sailed high, and Lindsey Handke buried hers. Lesowy smothered H-M’s first shot lunging to the right, and when she snagged the fourth shot diving left, it was over.
Asked if she’d been in shootouts before, the fourth-year veteran grinned, “None this big, that’s for sure. Just in club soccer.”
Delivering the regulation goals were two other seniors who like Lisowy are distinguished veterans of two state title runs.
After Claire Cater of Hill-Murray blasted a grounder past Lisowy in the 27th minute, Zephyr forward Lauren Heinsch knotted the score 16 seconds later.’’
She made a difficult sideways shot from about 12 feet to the right of the net, pivoting 90 degrees on the run and steering the ball over the goalie, into the far side of the net.
“I saw the goalie in the near post, and the far post open,” said Heinsch, who had seven of her team’s 14 goals in the sectionals. “I just had to get my hips around to the ball.”
Anna Wagner, with a huge assist from Heinsch, gave Mahtomedi a 2-1 lead in the 47th minute.
With both teams bunched near midfield, Heinsch launched what looked like a football punt straight down the field. Wagner raced to the ball so far ahead of the defenders that she was able to take her time dribbling into scoring position before firing a shot over the goalie’s shoulder.
“I tried to stay composed and place the ball just right. I knew we really needed it,” Wagner said. The two seniors have worked together a long time. “Anna and I read each other pretty well,” Heinsch said, “and I knew she was going to make that run.”
Mahtomedi’s lead did not last long either as Katherine Schindler scored just over two minutes later, on a header off a corner kick from Cater with 5:25 on the clock.
The Zephyrs will play in their 14th state tournament and third in a row. The program has eight Class A championships.
This was Mahtomedi’s seventh straight section final, of which they have won five, and the fourth straight year dueling the Pioneers. “It’s a great rivalry, isn’t it/” said Wald. Hill-Murray won 1-0 in 2016 and the Zephyrs have taken the next three 6-0 and 3-2 twice. Also meeting in the regular season, they are 5-2-1 against the Pioneers in that span.