By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—The strangest thing about Playoff Soccer besides anything happens is Penalty Kicks.
It’s not too often that PK’s become a factor even in playoff soccer as most times it’s settled in the two-Overtime periods and it never gets to the decisive Penalty Kicks.
But not in Blanchet Catholic’s 3-2 win over Portland Christian where the game had it’s fair trade of tricks and treats on this Halloween.
The game started with treats for the Cavaliers when they jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the Royals by the 23rd minute with goals by Gianna Schnurbusch and Savannah Barchus lift the host-Blanchet team into the lead after an aggressive start by Portland Christian started the game.
But that’s when the tricks started in a sense that peaked in the 47th minute before the game became evenly matched.
The Royals would tie the game and the Cavaliers Brachus had to be helped off the field after colliding with Portland Christian’s goalkeeper going after a pass by a teammate with 33 minutes left in the game.
Both teams continued to battle but neither team could find the back of the net. The two squads came close during the next 32 minutes of regulation and the 20 minutes of overtime play as the game had to go to the brutally tough Penalty Kicks.
“It was exciting for sure. I think we all knew we had to play as a team especially with a girl out, we had to play for her too,” said Sienna Abbott.
Lauren Elmore’s effort over the final 52 minutes helped ensure that her squad stayed in the game with Brianna Anaya, Mariella Saldana and Bella Alley coming close a few times from breaking the 2-2 tie by the final buzzer signaling the end of the Overtime Period.
“I felt really confident actually, I don’t know,” said Blanchet’s Lauren Elmore entering the PK’s. “I know getting into the shooters head and I really got into her head. Especially after that first one, I could tell. I blocked that and he didn’t call that but I knew right after that she wasn’t in the right mindset. I don’t know, it was good.”
Saldana makes the first PK, Elmore initially blocks the PK during her turn in the net before seeing the ball sail over the top cross bar after the referee deemed that the first shot came before the whistle.
Elmore fed off the energy from her teammates as much as her confidence.
“After that first one, I just knew I could do it. That I got it and I know that I believe that I could get the next one,” said Elmore. “And especially seeing my teammates reactions to the saves, that really helped me push myself to get the next one.”
Blanchet would go up two goals to none after Bella Alley’s made PK and Elmore save. Schnurbusch made one, but so did the Royals to extend the PK’s to the fourth round. That’s where Abbott sealed the 4-1 win in PKs to give Blanchet the 3-2 win to advance to Saturday’s rematch versus Yamhill-Carlton.
The two met Saturday where the Lady Cavs held a brief 3-2 lead after being down 2-0 to the Lady Tigers in the 3A/2A/1A Special District 2 League Championship match before Yamhill-Carlton charged back from the 5-3 win.
“I think we’re going to go into that game really focused and we’re going to give it all we got,” said Abbott.
“I’m really excited about next game. You know, if we play our game, then I feel like we’ll have the advantage,” adds Elmore. “We know them, we’ve played them several times. I feel like if we play our game, then we’ll win.”
Photos by Jeremy McDonald