LAKEVILLE — The Bethany Christian girls overcame a slow offensive start, penalties, a controversial end to regulation, and two scoreless overtime periods, but a diving fingertip save by Andrean’s Briana Houpt on the final penalty kick gave the 59ers a 2-1 win over the Bruins in the Class 1A regional semifinal at Newton Park in Lakeville Saturday.
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, with the first shot on goal coming at the 31:52 mark of the first half by Andrean. The Bruins struggled to apply consistent pressure on the 59ers' defense with just one shot on goal in the first 20 minutes.
Bethany Christian’s offense showed signs of life at the 19 minute mark when freshman Mariah Stoltzfus broke through a gap in the Andrean defense and was one-on-one with Houpt, but an offside penalty on the Bruins quickly halted the breakout and shifted the momentum in favor of the 59ers.
The Bruins following two shots on goal in the first half came at the 12:20 and 9:10 mark, both of which were one-on-one breakouts that banged off of the top crossbar.
“We had three or four chances in the first and second half where we were one on one with the keeper,” Bethany Christian head coach Hank Willems said. “I think we hit the crossbar twice in the first half and once again in the second. Any one of those shots could’ve made the difference.”
The 59ers closed out the half with intense offensive pressure, keeping the ball mainly on the Bethany Christian side for the final 20 minutes of the first half. Despite several close opportunities, the Bruins defense held strong and held Andrean scoreless in the first half.
The Bruins bend-but-don’t-break defensive formula was still in place to start the second half, with Andrean continuing to push Bethany Christian defenders into their own goal box.
The 59ers offense began clicking early, with sophomore Christina Martinez pushing their first shot on goal of the half at 37:03 just wide of the right post.
Bethany Christian's offense one again came alive, albeit briefly, with two quick shots on goal at the 30:31 and 30:11 mark by junior Katie Sauder, but the crossbar curse continued as the first kick floated too high, and the second bounced downwards into Houpt's hands.
From there, the Andrean offense again gained control, possessing the ball well for more than 20 minutes before Martinez broke the scoring drought for both sides at 10:51 with a long-distance directional shot off of her right foot that floated just inside the upper left corner of the goal, giving either side the first lead of the game, 1-0.
The remainder of regulation was mostly quiet, with the 59ers settling back into a defensive formation that the Bruins failed to break through until the final seconds.
With just 10 seconds remaining in regulation and down 1-0, Stoltzfus collided with Houpt as she was attempting to shoot and went down in pain. Houpt recovered the ball, got up relatively quickly, and after several seconds, time ran out on the game clock.
The 59ers were ready to celebrate as the buzzer signaled the end, but the referees halted the game and called a foul on Houpt for tackling, which reset the clock to when the collision occurred at eight seconds. Since the foul occurred in the goalie box, it gave the Bruins a last-chance direct penalty kick.
The call was not well received by Andrean fans in attendance, to the point where a reminder was sent out over the PA system to remain civil and calm.
With the clock reset to eight seconds, senior middle forward Rilynn Kauffman made the direct penalty shot on a floater just inside the left corner, making it 1-1 and sending the game to overtime.
Neither team’s offense got going in either overtime periods, with the 59ers putting up just one shot on goal and the Bruins none. The series of scoreless overtimes meant that the game would be decided by penalty kicks.
“I thought we had a little momentum going into overtime, but we were very tired in overtime,” Willems said. “They had to play a ton of minutes all season, and I think it caught up with us a little bit today.”
Willems also noted that the Bruins settled into a more defensive position, as he knew that they could not get into a back-and-forth finish in the overtime periods.
The Bruins were up to kick first, but Houpt dove on top of junior Mackenzie Mast’s shot. After a low ground shot snuck past Grace Triplett, the 59ers took the 1-0 lead.
The Bruins made it 1-1 with a top left corner kick by Reyna King, but the 59ers took a 2-1 advantage on a crafty fakeout shot by junior Bridgette Sherman. After Andrean’s next shot sailed wide, Bethany Christian’s Michaela Swartzendruber tied it up 2-2.
Andrean then took the lead on a ground shot inside the right corner, making it 3-2. Houpt then came in clutch for the 59ers by stopping the next two shots; a directional stop over the middle, and a diving fingertip grab to give Andrean the win.
“Our effort was great. Our effort was really good and that’s how I’ll judge this game," Willems said. "I’m very proud our girls didn’t stop competing, they played up until the final seconds and earned a PK.”
The Bruins wrap up their season with a record of 12-5-2 overall.
A- Christina Martinez (Directional) at 9:45
B- Rilynn Kauffman (Directional) at :08
PK: Andrean 4-2