METROPOLIS — Jillian Clark’s goal with 9:54 remaining in regulation time saved the season for Murphysboro, and the goaltending of senior Taylor Hobbs and the gutsy play of junior Brianna Rodely during the third overtime penalty kicks sealed the first playoff win for the second year program with a 1-1 (4-2) win over Harrisburg on a windy Wednesday at the Massac County Class 1A girls soccer regional semifinal.
“Harrisburg played very aggressively tonight and dominated the 50-50 balls, so we were having trouble, especially in the first half against the wind, of maintaining possession,” said Murphysboro coach Michael Lydy. “Jillian is a freshman and this was only her third goal, but each one was an ESPN highlight.”
Fourth seed Murphysboro (18-2-2) advances to its first regional final Friday at 4 p.m. against top seed Columbia — the team that eliminated Red Devils in the first round last year.
All five of Murphysboro’s goals, including the four goals scored on penalty kicks, were scored by someone other than the Red Devils' top three goal scorers: Lillie Schaldemose, Maci Uffelman and Hannah Estel.
“Taylor is well trained to intimidate the other team,” Lydy said. “We practice penalty kicks all the time and this is second time we’ve had to go to penalty kicks this season. We won 3-0 at the Cape Notre Dame tournament and now 4-2, so Taylor has stopped five of seven penalty kicks this year.”
The game was played with a 25-mile an hour west wind, and it was the team that had that wind to its back that scored during the first 80 minutes.
“I was really proud of how the girls really battled in the heat and the wind,” said Harrisburg coach Jason Butler. “We knew Schaldemose and Ufflelman were really strong, so our focus was keeping track of them.”
After the two 10-minute overtime periods produced no goals. the teams lined up for the penalty kick phase in the third overtime. Harrisburg won the coin toss and chose to shoot first. leaving Murphysboro to choose which goal was to be used.
“Taylor wanted the west goal for two reasons,” Lydy said. “First. the sun would have been in the goalkeeper’s eyes on the other end. and second, she wanted the wind to be in the faces of the shooters, so their shots wouldn’t be helped and possibly hindered.”
Devin Butler, Harrisburg’s leading scorer with 28 goals, was first and Hobbs got a hand on her shot to her left, but it went across the line. Jacey Nehring took Murphysboro’s first and scored easily into the upper left corner.
Josie Drone, who scored Harrisburg’s goal in the first half, was next and her shot to the left was stopped by Hobbs to give the Red Devils a one goal lead after Arie Ciganovich scored into the right corner.
“I’m confident when I go into shootouts,” Hobbs said. “I start by jumping up and down because I’m thinking it bothers them. I don’t really know what I think until I line up there until I start looking at where they are looking.”
Lauren McDaniel, who had replaced starting keeper Kerrigan Bush with 4:23 remaining in the second overtime, scored on Harrisburg’s third kick, but sophomore Ashley Jarrett scored to maintain the one goal lead.
Jenny Buchanan was fourth and her shot sailed over the crossbar, bringing Rodely up with a chance to win the game. She had suffered a toe injury on her shooting foot with 14:32 remaining in the second period, and sat out the end of regulation time.
“I prepared myself to play the overtime periods by moving my around and putting ice on it, which kind of made it go numb,” Rodely said.
Rodely returned to play the two overtime period, but when she limped up to the ball in the third overtime, the pain had returned. Despite the handicap, Rodely buried the ball to send her Red Devils to their first regional title game.
“It was nerve-racking waiting for my time,” Rodely said. “It was hurting really bad, so I made sure I hit the ball with the side of my foot and not my toe.”
Harrisburg (10-5) took the lead with 15 seconds left in the first half on Drone’s 17th goal of the season, assisted by Buchanan on a long shot from the left side than sneaked into the upper right corner of the net.
Murphysboro didn’t allow a shot on goal in the second half and had eight good scoring chances over the 30 minutes, including a two-man breakaway that Bush made a big save on a shot by Estel with 19:12 left.
With the clock becoming an issue on a season that saw the Red Devils set team records for wins, losses and shutouts Clark did the heroics to send the game into overtime.
“I was out in front and everybody was cheering, go, go, go, and it kind of rolled to me and I kicked it in the goal,” Clark said. “There were a few people between me and the goal, so I just kicked it over them.”
In the first overtime, Harrisburg took the wind again and had a great chance with six minutes remaining, but Hobbs made a fingertip save on a hard shot from the middle by Butler.
In the second extra session, Murphysboro had the edge in play with five good scoring chances in the first five and a half minutes, but Bush made a good save on a shot by Uffelman with 7:17 remaining.