Penalty kicks ended the season early for the Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team, as the Kenai Kardinals claimed a 2-1 double-overtime shootout victory over the Crimson Bears Friday in the inaugural state tournament at Skyview High School.
Juneau and Kenai were tied 1-1 after 80 minutes of regulation play, two 10-minute overtime periods (played to their completion regardless of whether or not a team scores) and another pair of five-minute sudden-death overtime periods.
The Kenai girls' preparation paid off as they nailed four straight penalty kicks to win the shootout and advance to the fourth-place match, bouncing Juneau from the tournament in the process.
``One-hundred-ten minutes of running, then to hit four penalty kicks in a row,'' Kenai girls coach Dan Verkuilen said. ``The beauty of this game is that if you work hard in practice, it pays off in games. Practice paid off with four unbelievably nice shots.''
Stephanie Smith scored four goals as the Service Cougars dominated the Colony Knights in Saturday's girls championship game, winning 7-1. Meanwhile East Anchorage beat Bartlett 2-1 in overtime in the third-fifth place game and West Anchorage beat Kenai 3-0 in the fourth-sixth place game. In other games Friday, Service beat East 3-0 and Colony beat Bartlett 1-0 in the championship semifinals, while West eliminated Palmer 2-0 in the other consolation game.
Kenai won the team academic award with a 3.70 GPA, while Bartlett won the team sportsmanship award. Krystle Llanto was Juneau's only representative on the all-tournament team.
The Kardinals had the first good scoring opportunity early in Friday's match as Cory Hershberger lined up to take a penalty kick after Juneau was whistled for a hand ball in the penalty area. Hershberger hit a well-struck shot, but Bears keeper Amanda Krafft dove to her left to get a hand on the ball and deflect it off the post.
``That was amazing,'' said Juneau's Nobu Koch. ``We were all like, `Whoa.'''
Llanto netted the first goal of the match midway through the second half, touching the ball past Kenai goalkeeper Stephanie Arbelovsky from beside the net.
Kenai equalized just minutes later when Hershberger finished off a throw-in play with a shot to the back of the net.
Neither team could find the back of the net again through the rest of regulation, 20 minutes of overtime and an additional 10 minutes of sudden-death overtime, setting up the shootout.
In the shootout, each team picked five players to each take a penalty shot on the other team's goalkeeper, with the teams alternating shots. Kenai got shootout goals from Jesse Reilly, Kristi Knudsen, Hershberger and Jamie Montgomery. Juneau seniors Hannah Slotnick and Koch both scored in the shootout, but two missed shots killed Juneau's chances.
``It was a very evenly matched game,'' Verkuilen said. ``It's a shame that we can't both go on. The passion is what made this game awesome.''
``I thought we played strong,'' Slotnick said. ``We're not a very lucky team - we have to pay for all our goals with sweat and blood.''
Verkuilen was pleased to see his side work hard through the entire game. He was particularly impressed with Jennifer Stewart, whom he dubbed the team's most improved player.
Verkuilen also like what he saw from Reilly up front and from Montgomery and Knudsen in the midfield.
``Their goal the whole year was to earn some respect,'' Verkuilen said. ``They realize that they're getting close. Now they want to learn even more.
``This whole tournament is a testament to how awesome soccer has become.''
The Juneau Empire contributed to this story.