PUYALLUP, Wash. – Emotions shifted quickly for Kasey Ames – first from dread and panic, and then immediately to elation.
The Central Valley junior’s kick during her squad’s shootout against Greater Spokane League rival Mead ricocheted off the crossbar before bouncing off the frozen field and trickling into the net.
It proved to be the difference in another tight matchup between the two programs.
The dramatic goal was followed by a big save from goalkeeper Jessie Kunz-Pfeiffer and a clinching shootout goal from Taryn Miller, propelling the Bears into the State 4A girls soccer championship match for the first time.
Central Valley punched in all five of its shots to Mead’s three in the shootout to edge the Panthers 1-0 at Sparks Stadium.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever been as nervous as I was before that kick,” said Ames about her penalty kick. “I couldn’t decide which side I wanted to go with. I was debating right up to when I kicked it. When it hit the bar my heart sank.”
It didn’t stay there for long, however, as the ball took a favorable hop, ending up in the back of the net.
“That was unbelievable,” Ames said. “To go from thinking I missed the shot to getting the goal, amazing.”
The Bears (17-1) will take a nine-game winning streak and plenty of high hopes into today’s state championship game at 4 p.m. against Issaquah, a 3-0 winner over Olympia.
“The girls have worked so hard to get here,” Central Valley coach Andres Monrroy said. “I couldn’t be prouder of this team. My heart really goes out to Mead. Going to a shootout and ending the way it did shows just how close these two programs are. It shows how great the GSL is.”
Mead (17-4) will play for the third-place trophy at noon.
“It’s disappointing to lose that way, but I thought we played extremely well tonight,” Mead coach Kevin Houston said. “Both teams had chances to win it in regulation. The girls will be disappointed tonight, but they’ll come back out ready to play tomorrow.”
After Ames’ shot found its way by Mead keeper Ashlyn Juul, Kunz-Pfeiffer turned away Brianna Bennett.
Miller sealed the victory with her shot that sneaked by a diving Juul on the right side.