Sometimes it is not how many balls you stop, but when you make the stop that is most important.
And even though Lady Hatchet keeper MaryAnna McClure gave Washington a tremendous 94 minutes of soccer, it was the two saves she made during the penalty-kick overtime that proved to be the biggest.
With a 1-1 tie after 80 minutes and a pair of seven-minute overtime periods, WHS was able to win a 4-3 penalty kick shootout to bring home its ninth sectional title on Saturday at the Sports Complex.
The win was the second title for Hatchet coach Gretchen Miles and the second for the seniors who last won as freshmen.
“This has been a very unique group, they do everything together, on and off the field,” said Miles. “Our motto for the year has been ‘the team is bigger than the individual’ and that is the way they play.
“This team is all business on the field. Our goal was to get three-in-a-row and come Wednesday we are going to go for four-in-a-row.”
The Hatchets dominated the opening 40 minutes of play, out shooting the visiting Jasper Lady Cats, 9-2. However, in spite of a 4-1 corner advantage and the difference in shots, the only real measurable difference was Claire Hatton’s left- footed goal at 27:07 from Jessie Hayes, that also found a piece of a Jasper defender for the 1-0 lead.
We knew this was going to be a different Jasper team than we faced during the season,” said Miles. “They brought a lot of enthusiasm and they were winning balls.
“Again for us, we can dominate all we want, but we have to put balls in the back of the net. But this was nice for our senior group, because the last two times we went to PKs with Jasper we lost.”
Washington had several chances to put a dent in the scoreboard as well as the back of the net during the first half, but the biggest might have been a Sierra Bryant shot that caught the post at 7:03.
The Wildcats picked up the level of play in the second half, but Washington still appeared ready to put the game out of reach. Hillary Patterson had a good look early in the half and Brandy Ramaj had several chances, but it would be Jasper that scored.
With 10 minutes to play, Jasper’s Maria Baer scored on a low liner that beat the outstretched McClure diving to her right.
“When they scored, they had capitalized on a mistake we made and momentum started to go their way and we were fortunate to get into penalty kicks.”
Hatton had one more solid chance for the Lady Hatchets at 4:30 to keep it from going into the overtime periods, but just missed on a header.
The Lady Hatchets continued to have chances in the OT, including a shot from Ramaj that just caught the far post, while McClure snuffed out a Jasper chance with a nice save at 3:16.
However, after 94 minutes of soccer on the sunny, but cold pitch, the game would be decided by penalty kicks.
“PKs are one of those things where you love them when you win and hate them when you don’t,” joked Miles.
“The group that we sent out there was most consistent hitting PKs all season and when you can go with your upperclassmen it is always a good thing.”
The Hatchets opened with goal from Ramaj, but Jasper responded to make it 1-1.
Bryant scored, but Jasper again evened it at 2-all. Haley Gaither missed and Jasper took a 3-2 lead. However, Katie Hammer evened it at three and McClure then got a stop of Jasper’s Erika Kluth. Washington’s final shooter was senior Shelby Guy who made it 4-3 and gave McClure a chance for the game winning save and a chance to move on to the semistate Wednesday at the Complex.
“MaryAnna McClure came up with two huge saves that just sealed the deal for us,” said Miles.