Fifth grade was the last time Kelsi Andrews can remember playing goalkeeper.
As a freshman, Andrews had enough skill in the field to warrant a spot on the Kapaun Mount Carmel girls soccer team as a reserve. But just to play, Andrews volunteered her services at goalkeeper.
Andrews looked like a natural on Thursday evening in frigid conditions at South, as she staved off a penalty kick and another point-blank shot to boost Kapaun to a 1-0 victory over Derby in the semifinals of the Titan Classic.
The Crusaders will play Maize in the championship at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“Quite frankly,” Kapaun coach Alan Shepherd said, “she kept us in the game.”
That would have been hard to imagine entering the season, when Andrews was on the bench and the Crusaders were stocked full of offensive talent. But on Thursday, locked into a grind, partly due to Derby and partly due to the conditions, Kapaun needed Andrews to rescue it.
Andrew’s first test came five minutes into the game when Derby freshman Jordan Eickelman beat a defender and was brought down inside the box, drawing a penalty kick that would be taken by teammate Katie Hartman.
“I was so nervous,” Andrews said. “What if I missed it? There were a lot of things going through my mind in that moment.”
But her moment of clarity arrived when Hartman approached the ball and Andrews thought she noticed Hartman was favoring a shot to the outside. Andrews guessed right, diving to her left to smother the ball and preserve the tie.
Later in the first half, another quality chance from Hartman was thwarted by an Andrews save right in front of the goal.
“I think if we would have snuck in one of those, it would have grabbed the momentum for sure,” Derby coach Robert Rhodes said.
Kapaun scored in the 74th minute, when Grace Hagan chipped a high-arching corner kick in front of goal and Derby failed to clear it, giving Courtney Kempf an opening to curl the game-winning goal just inside the near post.
“Whenever there’s a corner kick, I usually try for the header, so I was like, ‘I’m going to get this, I’m going to get this,’ ” Kempf said. “I didn’t want to let that game get to overtime.”
Although it was a disappointing result for Derby, which suffered its first loss, there was plenty to feel good about after the game.
Most notable was the play of the defense, which was missing one of its starters. Alexis Palmer, the replacement, was superb in shadowing Kapaun goal-scorer Taryn Kruse and the Panthers as a whole limited Kapaun to three shots of consequence.
“Alexis held her own in there, I was proud of her,” Rhodes said. “We have some other experience back there with the other three, so it was good. They kept their shape and they didn’t give up a lot of awesome chances. I feel good about those guys moving forward.”
Maize 6, Hutchinson 2
Kapaun 1, Derby 0