Thrilling shootout win propels girls soccer to the section final
A year ago, they were in the same position.
Two weeks ago though, it was nearly impossibly to see them getting back here.
Yet, 17 days after losing 6-0 at Park Center, here they were, going to a section semifinal shootout with Park Center for the second straight year.
And just like last year, the Magic clutched up when they needed it most.
Monticello made their first three shots of overtime, while Park Center came up empty on each of their three, sending the jubilant Magic back to the section final for a second straight year.
It didn’t always look like it was going to be that way.
Sept. 29 Monticello traveled to Park Center to square off with their section rival. Playing without Danielle Gau, and only using her sister Kallie for a half, the Magic got ran off the field.
They vowed this one would be different. Early on, that looked dicey.
“It started a lot like the first game,” admitted Coach Brent Wuollet. “They came at us hard and fast.”
But this game, the Magic defense was up to the task from the get-go. It certainly helped having their defensive leader back in the lineup.
“[Danielle] made a world of difference,” said Wuollet. “She saved us more than a few times.”
In the first half, the Magic needed saving. But in the second half, the playing field seemed to level. Monticello started to enforce their game plan of possessing the ball and keeping it away from Park Center.
That made the 55th minute all the more tough to swallow. Park Center snuck behind the Magic defense and scored on a breakaway to take a 1-0 lead.
The girls could have easily reverted to the memories of Sept. 29 and fallen apart. They would have been applauded for a great half. But, they weren’t about to settle for that.
“We didn’t get down,” said Wuollet. “We kept going at it.”
Sure enough, in the 68th minute, the Magic officially responded.
With the ball deep in the offensive end of the field, someone got it toward the middle of the field. From there, senior Sarah Traczyk took over. She made a run on the ball, found a little space, and put a beautiful kick in the lower corner of the goal, knotting the section game up at 1.
The score would stay there through the remainder of regulation, despite a couple of opportunities for each team. But every time Park Center came knocking, Kallie Gau was there to turn them away.
“Typical, excellent Kallie,” said Wuollet of his goalkeeper’s game.
Wuollet refers to Gau as “without a doubt” the best goaltender he has coached at Monticello, and she lived up to it Tuesday. Gau finished the game with 20 saves.
When regulation expired, the game remained tied at 1. Two ten-minute overtime periods of sudden death later, the game was still knotted at 1.
That meant shootout time.
For both teams, it was a familiar feeling. In the same round last year, Monti beat Park Center in an amazing 18-round shootout.
“The fact that we’ve been there before, beaten them in that same situation, they might be thinking ‘oh here we go again,’” said Wuollet. “We were thinking, ‘all right, we can do this.’”
And they did.
Kallie Gau stepped up first and found the back of the net.
Park Center missed.
Amanda Lawrence found the back of the net.
Kallie Gau made a save.
Lealah Abraham scored.
Park Center missed.
Win or lose, the Magic had set out to prove they were better than the team Park Center saw the first time. They proved to be the best team there.
Monticello plays Totino-Grace tonight at Maple Grove High School at 7 p.m.