Lighting the way: Lady Choctaws advance with twilight penalty kicks
With storms and twilight both approaching and the District 14AAA Quarterfinal in Newbern tied at 1-1, Dyer County head coach Cody Williams and Cordova skipper Josiah Mast had a decision to make as they met with the officials for the contest on the unlit field at Dyer County High School on Monday evening.
After meeting with the two officials around with about 17 minutes left in the elimination contest, the two head coaches agreed to play five more minutes in the current conditions before trying to resolve the game via penalty kicks.
When that five-minute timeframe had elapsed and the game was still tied at a goal apiece, the officials and coaches took an interesting approach to lighting the field sufficiently enough for the first round of penalty kicks. Fans parked by the field were encouraged to turn on their headlights, which did improve the lighting.
When the action on the field got underway, Cordova was successful on its first attempt, but Dyer County’s Maddie Brandon failed to convert on her attempt. Freshman Lady Choctaw goalkeeper Lauren Deere made the save on the next Lady Wolf attempt then senior Ashley Piskorski converted on the next Dyer County attempt to tie it at 1-1 in penalty kicks.
Cordova scored on its next attempt but Dyer County answered with a Kyla Deere goal to tie it again at 2-2. Neither Cordova nor Lady Choctaw Payton Reasons converted on the next attempt but Lady Choctaw keeper Lauren Deere stopped the fifth Lady Wolf attempt then Maggie Hendrickson won the game for the Lady Choctaws with her goal on the fifth kick for Dyer County.
“This is an emotional win for my players and even for me,” Williams said. “This is probably the most nerve-racking game I have ever been a part of but I could not be prouder of the way my girls finished this ballgame.”
In addition to being the first game of the postseason, Monday’s game was also Senior Night for the Lady Choctaws as seniors Piskorski and Gracie Williams were honored before the contest.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my seniors tonight and throughout the entire season,” Williams said. “This was Gracie Williams’ first year as a player, but watching her, you wouldn’t really know it. She’s a great athlete and a really great team player.
“Ashley is one of the leaders of this team and one of the hearts of this team. She is definitely a force on this field. I needed a big game from both of them to get out of here with a win.”
After a scoreless first half and with rain moving into the area, Cordova scored in the 46th minute with a Gabriele Toledo goal to take an early lead in the second half.
But, after several close calls, Dyer County finally broke onto the scoreboard as Raven Lurks put in a rebound off the Lady Wolf goalkeeper, freshman Anisa Stepter, to tie the game up at 1-1 in the 55th minute.
With the win, Dyer County moves onto the 14AAA semifinals where they will face Arlington today at 6 p.m.