What endeared MacKenzie Heiman to her Kapaun Mount Carmel girls soccer teammates was her resolve. After missing the majority of last season with a serious knee injury, Heiman had displayed the willingness to come back even better.
Heiman’s rehabilitation work was validated Thursday night, as the senior delivered a devastating blow inside the box for what would become the game-winning goal in Kapaun’s 2-1 defeat of previously-unbeaten Bishop Carroll.
But just a minute after her heroism, Heiman suffered what is feared to be another serious knee injury. For the final 20 minutes, Kapaun would have to show the same resolve as Heiman did in her comeback.
They were more than ready for the challenge. After all, they had learned from Heiman.
“MacKenzie is a beast,” teammate Grace Hagan said. “She works so hard, and I’m so glad it was her to get that goal. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to have it.”
“This whole game was for her,” senior Courtney Kempf added. “We weren’t going to lose. This was for her.”
Severe injuries to Heiman and Carroll forward Shelby Lopez spoiled what was otherwise an intensely competitive game between the Catholic rivals. It was Carroll’s first loss after winning its first 12 games by a combined score of 59-2.
“They’re not used to losing,” Carroll coach Greg Rauch said. “I think all of us have to step back and say, ‘OK, the world didn’t end.’ We have to be focused tomorrow (against St. Thomas Aquinas). The last thing we can do is have a pity party.”
It was a stunning result, considering Carroll took a 1-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game when Lopez sent a perfect rolling through ball for Emily Woods to chase down. Woods beat Kapaun’s back line and finished by sliding her shot underneath the keeper.
But Kapaun never stopped being the aggressor. After that energy was misplaced in the first half, the Crusaders channeled it better the second half and began connecting more in the midfield and creating more legitimate opportunities.
It was Heiman who set up the equalizing goal, as she battled for a loose ball in the box and drew a foul to earn Kapaun a penalty kick. Maggie Kelly delivered a strike that found the back of the net to tie the score eight minutes into the second half.
And then it was Heiman again providing the heroics, settling a loose ball in the box and sending a low-sailing rocket that gave Carroll’s Jami Reichenberger no chance to react.
The final 20 minutes was a battle with players on both sides upping the physicality.
“It’s not usually kind words on the field with (Carroll and Kapaun),” Kempf said. “There was a lot of pushing and shoving. But at the end of the day, I’m just super glad that we won. A lot of hard work paid off.”
It was the type of hard-working finish that Kapaun was proud to present to Heiman, at least for one game, showing their gratitude with a victory that keeps the Crusaders alive for the City League championship.
“MacKenzie Heiman is a battler,” Kapaun coach Alan Shepherd said. “She’s not going to give up on anything. That’s what won that game for us. We wanted to win this one for her.”
First half – Carroll, Woods (Lopez). Second half – Kapaun, Kelly (penalty kick); Kapaun, Heiman (unassisted). Shots – Kapaun 6-3–9, Carroll 2-4–6. Saves–Kapaun, Jacobs 1-2–3; Carroll, Reichenberger 4-1–5.