Penalty kicks key Lady Hoya victory
by William Bretherton
May 10, 2012 01:11 AM | 2281 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Harrison’s Savannah Vanderbeck (21) and Woodstock’s Natalie Leone fight for control of the ball in Wednesday’s second-round Class AAAAA state playoff game.
<Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Harrison’s Savannah Vanderbeck (21) and Woodstock’s Natalie Leone fight for control of the ball in Wednesday’s second-round Class AAAAA state playoff game.
Staff photo by Todd Hull
KENNESAW — After playing for 90 minutes, Harrison’s season came down to one penalty kick.

And with that kick taken by the Jessica Sperry, the Lady Hoyas’ chance to defend their Class AAAAA state championship continued on.

Sperry’s shot beat Woodstock goalkeeper Abbey Booz to the far post, and Harrison won 3-2 on penalty kicks in Wednesday’s second-round Class AAAAA state playoff game at Bruce Cobleigh Stadium.

“It was a battle of very good teams with a strong senior class,” Harrison coach Steve Riccard said. “(Woodstock) turned it up a notch in the second half. It’s all we could do to hang in there with them. I felt like, if we could get to PKs, we had a good chance. We sort of lost the momentum that we had in the first half there.”

Harrison got a reprieve, however, once it got to penalty kicks.

“Who wasn’t going to blink?” Riccard said. “The two that missed for us (in penalty kick), that was an anomaly. ... So, that wasn’t a typical shot for them. The magnification and the pressure of the game could have gotten to them. Also, the fatigue because the two that missed never came off the field and both played in midfield.

“I’m just glad to move on. Survive and move on.”

As a result of surviving Woodstock (13-4)) — and getting revenge for a 3-0 loss to the Lady Wolverines last month — Harrison (13-4-1) will host Mill Creek in Saturday’s state quarterfinal.

The Lady Hoyas set the tempo from the onset Wednesday, putting pressure on Woodstock’s back line and turning that into an early goal.

On a Woodstock goal kick in the 10th minute, the ball found Harrison’s Anna Sims just 30 yards from the goal. Sims slotted the ball forward for Sperry, who beat Booz to her left for the game’s first goal.

While Harrison controlled possession in the first half and was able to score the game’s first goal, the Lady Hoyas were only able to put two shots on goal in the first 40 minutes.

“We had lots of trouble in the final third,” Riccard said. “You can coach them, but it’s got to be in their personality to want to do certain things. We did what we had to do.”

Woodstock took it to Harrison in the second half. The Lady Wolverines put six shots on goal, while Harrison was forced outside its comfort zone in lobbing long passes down the field that were more like clearances than offensive chances.

In the 57th minute, Woodstock drew a foul 20 yards outside of the penalty box. Though the set piece was cleared away by a bevy of Harrison defenders, the Lady Wolverines were able to cross the ball back into the box. It ricocheted off several players from both sides before finding Woodstock forward Natalie Leone within 6 yards of the goal.

Leone then put the ball past Harrison goalkeeper Allison Leone to tie the score at 1-all.

Throughout the final 23 minutes of regulation, and the 10 minutes of extra time, neither team could find the back of the net. In extra time, Harrison was able to take the fight back to Woodstock, but it couldn’t put a shot on goal with the game going to penalty kicks.

In penalty kicks, Booz and Natalie Leone were each able to stop two shots, but another of Woodstock’s shots hit the post and bounced back. Sims and Monica Herrera then scored on their respective shots, setting the scene for Sperry’s game-winner.

“It was stressful, but those are some great girls, and I had high hopes for them, and they did it,” Herrera said.
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May 11, 2012
I just read that the game is going to conflict with Mill Creek's prom, as it doesn't start till 5:30. I don't know the whole story involved, so I'll just say that I hope that Harrison and Mill Creek can be flexible and work to find a compromise so that these athletes can play the game and also be able to attend their prom. Both are important events and it's horrible to be in a position of having to choose and miss one.
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