For the Harrison girls soccer team, the sword is penalty kick shootouts.
After beating Brookwood in penalty kicks Tuesday to qualify for the state championship, Harrison was defeated in the same style by Parkview in Saturday’s Class AAAAAA championship at Kennesaw State’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
After a 1-all tie through regulation and overtime, the Lady Hoyas fell 4-1 on penalty kicks denying them their second state title in three years.
“If you’re going to win like that, you have to know that you could end up on the other end of it.” Harrison coach Steve Riccard said. “We were on the other end of it.”
For most of the game, Harrison (19-2) created more offensive chances, applied more pressure and drew more fouls than Parkview (20-3), but with 3 minutes remaining until halftime, the Lady Panthers opened the scoring when a floating ball from midfield fell to freshman Emma Carlson in the box. Carlson calmly fired a low shot past Harrison goalkeeper Allison Leone, giving Parkview a 1-0 lead that it took into the intermission.
Harrison looked like an even more aggressive team after halftime, swarming forward and creating more opportunities to score. Nine minutes into the second half, senior Monica Herrera scored on a professional-class strike, sailing a perfect shot from 20 yards out into the side netting, leveling the score at 1-1.
“Parkview did a good job of dealing with Treva (Aycock), and with the issues we had, missing a couple of midfielders, we were being a little bit cautious, but when you give up a goal, you have to go chase it,” Riccard said. “Once we got that goal, we started creating excellent chances. We just didn’t finish them.”
Harrison looked the part of an eventual champion throughout the rest of regulation, getting another close chance when senior Julia DuPre pushed a shot just too high only 2 minutes after Herrera’s equalizer. Herrera also came close to scoring the winner when she just missed heading home a cross that came from a free kick less than 10 minutes before the end of regulation.
After a conservative and scoreless pair of overtime periods, it was Parkview’s turn to apply pressure, as it performed flawlessly in the penalty kick shootout.
Herrera converted on her kick in the first round, but after Savannah Vanderbeck and DuPre missed, Parkview’s Kristina Meyer connected on the championship-winning shot.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Riccard took time to reflect on what his nine seniors contributed to both the team and the school.
“We’ve got nine seniors who are spot-on, class-A kids, both in the class and on the field,” he said. “They never think about themselves, they always think about the team, and they’re always stressing that to the rest. The players that are returning, they see what it’s supposed to be like. It will be difficult to replace those seniors.”
Difficult or not, Riccard maintains high expectations going forward for the 2014 season, with key players like Aycock, Vanderbeck, Leone and Lizzy Sieracki set to return.
“It’s the plan every day to make it to the state championship game,” he said. “We start the Monday after Thanksgiving with conditioning, and we plan to still be playing on the last day of the season.”