By John Lachmann
TAYLOR MILL, Ky. – After its match on Wednesday, both Brossart coach Brad Gough and junior forward Morgan Verst said the last thing they wanted was to have the Mustangs' regional final on Saturday vs. Campbell County decided by penalty kicks.
But that is exactly what happened, and Brossart prevailed again, 2-1 in the Region 10 final at Scott with Verst providing the decisive kick in the ninth round.
The Mustangs had already won both of their previous matches against the Camels this season in PKs.
Verst said she felt the pressure on the winning kick, which she knocked into the top left corner of the net.
“I knew you had to keep your head up and just focus on making it,” Verst said.
Brossart came within 93 seconds of being eliminated in regulation. Campbell County junior forward Natalie Visse was able to find junior midfielder Lauren Macke, who buried a shot just inside the far post with 10:52 remaining in the first half.
The Mustangs forced Camels sophomore goalkeeper Bryanna Schroers to make just two routine saves in the second half before Mustangs junior Cori Ziegler’s partly-deflected pass to freshman Amanda Graus snuck into the corner of the net with 1:33 left.
Schroers stopped two more shots in overtime, and Brossart junior goalkeeper Sarah Futscher turned one shot aside in the two five-minute extra sessions.
The teams both converted 4-of-5 penalty kicks prior to sudden death, and the Mustangs and Camels were unsuccessful in the sixth and seventh rounds.
Brossart senior Michaela Smith connected on a shot to her right to start the eighth round, and Campbell County freshman Kelsey Riley scored low to her left to keep her team alive.
After Verst knocked her kick in, Camels freshman Olivia Nelson pulled her kick to the left.
Gough said Verst is normally one of the first five he turns to in penalty kicks, but he decided to bump her back several spots.
“I just had a feeling on it,” Gough said. “I wanted to let Morgan see a couple of shots to take the pressure off of her, being a junior, so I put a couple of seniors ahead of her thinking it may or may not get to her.
“Call it a coaching mistake or coaching genius, I don’t care, I was already saying if we lose this game it’s on me because those five kickers, those are my responsibility and they’ve done a great job all year and I messed with it at the last second.”
Verst had notched her first hat trick of the season in Brossart’s previous match, a 7-0 win over Pendleton County on Wednesday, and she was successful in her PK vs. Campbell County in the teams’ previous meeting.
“(Gough) asked me to be sixth and I just wasn’t feeling it today, but once he said I was eighth or ninth, I just OK, I’ll go for it,” Verst said.
The Mustangs have played both of their goalies each game most of the season, and Saturday was no exception. Senior Courtney Ledonne stopped one shot in the first half, and Futscher played the second half and overtime and made one save.
Gough came back with Ledonne for penalty kicks. She made two saves and nearly kept out a third shot that trickled off her hands and into the net.
“I honestly feel that Ledonne is the best PK goalie that I’ve ever coached on college, club or high school,” Gough said. “I think that her just being there intimidates the other team, they’ve seen her enough that they try to put it away from her because she’ll make those saves. You saw she got her hands on that one that barely squeaked in so they kick it wide because they’re trying to hit those extra couple inches.”
Brossart will play Notre Dame at 7 p.m. on Monday in the first round of the state tournament at a site TBA. The Pandas beat Newport Central Catholic, 3-1 in the Region 9 final on Saturday.
HALFTIME: Campbell County, 1-0. GOALS: B—Cookendorfer. CC—Macke. RECORDS: Brossart 18-5-1, Campbell County 14-9-2.
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