Chargers top Warriors on PKs, advance to sectional final
By Steve Millar
Stagg goalkeeper Sydney Downs goes into every penalty-kick shootout with the goal of making one save.
“I have faith in our shooters,” Downs said. “I go into them hoping to just stop one.”
In night’s Class 3A Reavis Sectional semifinal, Downs did far more than that. The senior came up with three huge saves as the Chargers outlasted Lincoln-Way West 5-4 in an eight-round shootout to earn a 2-1 victory.
“Sydney is very reliable,” Stagg coach Allison Kaim said. “We know she’s going to come up big because she’s done it for us before.”
Stagg (18-3-1) advanced to take on Andrew in the sectional final set for .
While the Chargers’ shooters had a tough time in the first five rounds of the shootout, Downs kept her team alive with the three stops.
She twice dove to her left to knock away shots. She stepped up big as Stagg was chasing through most of the first five rounds after falling behind when its first shot was turned away.
“When we got behind, that definitely puts more pressure on me,” Downs said. “I just try not to think about what the score is. I act like it’s 0-0 all the time and just focus on stopping each shot.”
In the eighth round, Lincoln-Way West (11-8-1) missed, setting up Stagg’s Ally Mussallem for a chance to win it. Mussallem, a Purdue recruit, fired wide on a penalty kick in the first half, but she redeemed herself by rolling a shot that tucked just under diving Warriors goalkeeper Grace Pearse.
“I was a little shaky because I normally don’t miss,” Mussallem said. “When I missed wide, I didn’t know what was going on.
“I had to do it for my team, though. Syd came up huge. We wouldn’t have won this game without her.”
Kaim was happy to see her star player come up big.
“It was great redemption for Ally,” Kaim said. “It was good for her to step up and be able to take that shot. Sometimes it’s difficult to have two PKs within the same game, but she was able to put that second one in and that was awesome.
Agnes Lojek, Faith Marinier, Eilis Hannon and Maja Persa also scored in the shootout for Stagg.
In regulation, the Chargers broke through with left in the second half when Veronika Stafira lofted a floating shot over Pearse’s head off a cross from Mussallem.
Lincoln-Way West, though, came right back. The Warriors tied it just 41 seconds later when Angela Skonicki headed in Sara Loichinger’s cross.
Chances were limited for both teams the rest of the way until Mussallem ripped a shot off the crossbar with two minutes left in the first overtime.
“It was a good game to watch,” Kaim said. “West definitely put up a fight. They didn’t quit. It was a tough game for both teams.”