Third-ranked Eldorado High School scored in the third minute of Saturday’s Class 5A Fuddruckers state soccer championship game at Lightning Bolt Stadium, and then couldn’t get another past Cleveland senior goalkeeper Brooke Keene for the next 97 minutes.
But in the penalty-kick shootout to determine the state champion, four Eagles kickers blasted shots past Keene, while only three of the Storm’s first four kickers could match that – although one shot rocketed off the crossbar – and Eldorado (18-2-2) went back to the Duke City with the blue trophy.
The Eagles were the District 2-5A champ, while the top-seeded Storm were the 1-5A titlist.
Haley Robinson scored her team’s first-half goal, while sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Sanchez matched Keene, yielding only one goal through 100 minutes.
CHS senior Maleah Quiñones evened the score at 1, when she found the back of the net, booting in a rebound in the 17th minute.
Storm coach Greg Rusk, whose 2017 team had also won the District 1-5A title and got to the championship game, albeit as the 2 seed, said, “You would rather lose in regulation.
“That’s the game, and you don’t have a lot of overtimes in the rest of the world, because they know that’s the game. Sudden-victory overtime or sudden-death, however you want to put it is a very difficult thing for the team that doesn’t do it, because it’s semi-unfair,” he said. “Penalty- kicks are soccer’s version of Russian roulette.”
There was a time in state history, Rusk said, when championship games would have as many as four 10minute OT sessions, but, “They changed the rule recently because it was a little too much.
“If you can’t do it in 100 minutes, then …” his voice trailed off.
“We hit the crossbar twice,” he said, disappointed in the runner-up finish for one of his favorite teams at Cleveland.
“Credit their goalkeeper for doing a very good job and credit their team for doing a very good job,” he said. “We played Cleveland soccer and we did our best and today just wasn’t our day.”