This is the point of the girls high school soccer season where no stone should be unturned.
Even with contests rarely decided by penalty-kick shootouts, Bishop Carroll has made them part of its practice routine.
“We have really been practicing that because it’s state and you never know how the game is going to go,” Carroll senior Whitney Bockover said. “I think that really helped us all.”
Bockover certainly looked confident when she rifled the decisive shot past Kapaun Mount Carmel goalkeeper Megan Michaelis on Tuesday, giving the host Golden Eagles a 1-0 shootout victory in the Class 5A quarterfinals.
Carroll (16-2), the No. 1 seed in the South Central regional, will make its sixth semifinal appearance in the last seven seasons after failing to post a top-four finish a year ago. Kapaun, which finished second in 5A last season, ended its season 12-6-1.
Bockover followed teammates Lauren Kerr, Hanleigh Allen and Erin Akin with successful shots in the shootout round as Carroll outscored Kapaun 4-2. Carroll goalkeeper Ashton McCorry surrendered goals to Emma Conover and Nancy Vargas, but stopped Mary Boulanger and Sierra Fury to set up Bockover’s game-clinching goal.
“We do shootouts at the end of every practice,” McCorry said. “I live for those. Those are fun.”
The shootout was necessary because two stellar defenses yielded nothing through 80 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime periods.
Neither had allowed a goal in the postseason, and they showed why from the start. The back line defenders quickly smothered any forward push and were unyielding. Kapaun defender Sydney Bongers prevented a Carroll corner kick by hustling to poke the ball out of bounds on the sideline before it could cross the end line.
Carroll junior Maguire Sullivan attempted the lone shot before intermission, firing high on a free kick from the point after Kapaun was whistled for a hand ball.
With the wind at its back in the second half, Kapaun became the aggressor. The Crusaders had the best scoring opportunity midway through the second half, when Conover’s corner attempt curled toward the net. McCorry punched it away, but Fury was also able to attempt a shot before Carroll cleared the ball.
“That was a frustrating part of the game for us, but we were able to keep them from scoring,” McCorry said.
Carroll managed just two shots in regulation and failed to generate many scoring opportunities in the early part of overtime. But facing a stiff wind, the Eagles maintained possession for most of the final overtime period, setting the stage for the shootout.
“We did not play the game we came to play, but we really stepped it up in the overtimes,” Bockover said. “We’re a defensive team and we didn’t really connect today.”