Prevailing on PKs
La PORTE — Madison Coates had never converted the last kick in a penalty-kick shootout.
Until Tuesday night.
La Porte’s junior midfielder made a penalty kick in the fifth and final round of the shootout, propelling the Slicers’ girls soccer team to a dramatic, 1-0 victory over visiting Merrillville on a windy night.
“I’ve never done the last kick and scored,” Coates said. “It felt pretty good. At first, it felt unreal. It was like, ‘Well, did we actually just win?’ Because everyone else just scored in front of me. So it’s like, ‘Well, I guess we won.’ I turn around and everyone’s cheering, and then, we all fall to the ground.”
Coates tucked the game-winning PK just inside the right post, setting off a celebration and dog pile with her teammates.
Prior to that, La Porte sophomore keeper Grace Holt made a save on Yamy Lopez’s shot in the top half of the fifth round of the shootout.
That gave Coates the chance to seal the Duneland Athletic Conference victory for the Slicers (2-1-1, 1-1 DAC) over the Pirates (0-4, 0-2 DAC).
After his team dominated time of possession and had a clear advantage in shots, La Porte coach John White was proud of them for staying with it after the game went to penalty kicks after two scoreless, seven-minute OT periods.
“It’s a testament to them,” White said. “They’re good. This year we’re a little deeper on the bench and we’ve been able to substitute girls, get girls rested, so they can play deep into games like this. And they work really hard at playing different positions and doing whatever they need to for the team.”
Also netting penalty kicks for the Slicers were Jasmine Diaz, Brianna Kehoe, and Morgan Llewellyn in rounds 1, 3, and 4.
Both La Porte and Merrillville missed PKs in the second round. The Pirates’ attempt sailed high, and the Slicers’ try was stopped by Merrillville goalie Myjae’ Armstrong.
So it was knotted 3-3 in the shootout when Coates delivered in the bottom of the fifth round.
“We tried to keep our cool,” Coates said. “We tried to keep our heart rates down, and keep in our minds, ‘We’re going to make it.’ And that’s what we did.”
White added that Coates was clutch in a clutch spot.
“We put Madison last for that reason,” White said. “Because she’s confident, and we thought, ‘We wanted somebody confident in that last spot.’ And I knew, when it came down to it, she would make the shot.”
At the same time, La Porte’s coach praised his keeper Holt.
“For a sophomore, playing goalie for the first time, in her first PKs, she showed some really good poise,” White said. “Some of those shots, she didn’t have a chance at, but that last stop was great.”
During the junior varsity match, the facility at Kesling Park had a power outage.
So it was decided to cancel the second half of the JV match and begin the varsity match. That way they could be sure to hopefully play the entire varsity contest.
The Slicers, who out-shot the visitors 27-10 on the night, definitely dictated play in the first half, but it was a scoreless tie at the break.
They also totally controlled the second half, but they couldn’t crack the scoring column.
The Pirates had some scoring chances in the two-seven minute OT periods, but they didn’t score either. That forced the PKs.
La Porte defender Megan Blank hurt her wrist about nine minutes into the second half. She left the game and didn’t return.
The Slicers’ JV prevailed 1-0 in half of a game.
La Porte next hosts Mishawaka on Saturday. The varsity game begins at 10 a.m., followed by half of a JV contest.