Girls Soccer: IC Catholic Prep falls in PKs in state semifinals

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NAPERVILLE – Players and fans alike know that when a soccer match heads to penalty kicks, what took place earlier on the field doesn’t really matter much at all.

IC Catholic Prep experienced just how cruel PKs can be after it controlled most of the first 100 minutes of play in Friday’s Class 1A semifinals only to fall to Alleman after penalty kicks ended a long, scoreless battle. PKs ended 5-3.

The Knights (16-5), who were looking to get one step closer to the school’s first soccer state title, had a big edge in possession and shots on goal, but once 80 minutes of regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtime periods failed to change the 0-0 score, they fell short after the Pioneers converted all five of their penalty kicks and the Knights missed one of their four attempts attempts (they didn’t attempt a fifth kick because the outcome was already determined).

ICCP, which will play for third place Saturday at North Central College, had a 9-1 shots on goal advantage through two halves. The ninth shot followed a corner kick, and Pioneers keeper Claire Hulke made a big save on a strong shot by Avery Berschel to keep the game scoreless.

“It sucks. It’s the game of soccer,” said Berschel, who converted her penalty kick to even things up at 1-1 after a round. “You can play the best game of your life and it doesn’t go your way. We fought really hard and we tried hard in the extra time. But in the end, PKs is a game of chance.”

ICCP added five shots on goal in the two extra sessions, meaning Hulke had to stop 14 shots before adding her biggest save of the night, a diving stop of a shot by the Knights’ freshman goalkeeper/midfielder Evelyn Flores in the shootout.

“It’s really anybody’s game at that point,” Berschel said. “I’m just proud of the way we played and with the season that we had. We were the underdogs. No one thought we could do this … we just stuck together and we had trust in each other.”

Knights coach Antonio Godinez, whose team will return most of its roster next spring, had no complaints with how his team fought.

“It was a well-fought battle,” he said. “I told the girls when you go to PKs it’s a game of chance. But I thought they played well. It’s soccer … you can win that way and you can lose that way. Effort has been there throughout the whole season. I’m so proud of them. It’s only one game, and we have another game tomorrow. I always tell them, don’t let it dictate your life — one game.”

Defender Ashley Zwolinski, one of only two seniors to play for ICCP on Friday, knows her team had chances to prevail but also knows the future is bright for the Knights.

“Sometimes it’s just how it ends. We’ve gone to PKs before twice this season and we won, but it’s chance,” she said. “You don’t want to go there. You want to finish it earlier. I guess it just couldn’t happen for us. In our other playoff games we finished right away. That helped us with momentum. Since that wasn’t there today, I think we were losing momentum a little bit. But overall, we gave it everything we got.”

Pioneers sophomore forward Carson Wendt scored a goal in her team’s supersectional defeat of Montini on Wednesday and was one of five Alleman players to convert a penalty kick in the state semifinals.

“I trust my players, I trust Claire and I trust all the people who were taking PKs,” she said. “We battled until the end and we had our defense on top of it today … getting the ball back up, trying to move it forward. Claire made some amazing saves, and I’m so happy this season has gone so long. It has been such a fun season.”

Alleman will play Normal U-High for the Class 1A title following Saturday’s third-place contest in Naperville.