When Helias freshman Danielle Baumgartner’s shot hit the back of the net in the third minute of the second sudden-death overtime, half of Hickman’s team fell to its knees. Others hung their heads and covered their eyes as they welled up with tears.
Then the players turned to watch their coach, Jon Strodtman, approach the three referees on the middle of the sideline. After four minutes of deliberation, the Kewpies, who had been huddled on the other side of the sideline, ran back out on the field with huge smiles on their faces. Baumgartner had been ruled offsides.
The Kewpies went on to win the the Class 2 District 10 girls’ soccer championship 3-2 Thursday night at Cosmopolitan Park after four overtimes and two shootouts.
Hickman defensive player Brittany Sharp said she was hoping the game wouldn’t come down to penalty kicks.
“As simple as they are, they are so stressful that you can make them incredibly complex,” she said.
First up in the initial shootout, Sharp remained calm and sent her ball into the net to give the Kewpies a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Caty Newbold made the first goal for the Crusaders followed by a goal from Hickman midfielder Amanda Suddith. Helias senior Megan Ordway went last and scored, tying the game at 2 and sending it into a sudden-death shootout.
Sharp said that penalty kicks can be so stressful that it’s not surprising when a team’s leading scorer doesn’t make their shot.
“Coach stressed that you couldn’t change your mind once you got up there, and I think a couple of the girls did,” she said. “You just have to go up there and stay calm and have confidence in what you’re doing.”
Hickman sophomore Liz Gayer was one of the few who followed Strodtman’s advice. In the second shootout, Hickman sophomore Katie Lappin’s shot deflected off the goalpost while Helias sophomore Lauren Ploch’s went wide right. Gayer scored on a ground shot that made it under the goalkeeper’s dive and when Helias’ Kelsey Mueller was unable to match the goal, the game was called in favor of Hickman.
“I just kept calm and knew I had to shoot it in the corner I had practiced,” Gayer said. “And it went in.”
For the first half of the game, the Kewpies defense worked hard to make it to the ball before the Crusaders had a shooting opportunity. However, Sharp said after 120 minutes of playing, the Kewpies were less sure they would be able to prevent a Helias goal.
“Everybody was trying but our legs were shot,” Sharp said, “and their defense was working really hard too. It’s hard to sprint against them for the ball when you’re that exhausted.”
Sharp said the team is looking forward to relaxing before practice starts again. Hickman (12-6-4) faces Lafayette (18-2-1) in sectional competition on Tuesday at Soccer Park in Jefferson City.
“I hear they’re really good,” Sharp said. “So we’re not going to go into it expecting anything else.”
But, for now, the girls are enjoying their win.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Gayer said. “In a couple of years, I can look back and say that I made it to (the district title) as a sophomore.”