MILFORD >> Sheehan girls soccer coach Rob Huelsman had already considered the possibility of penalty kicks long before it came to fruition Wednesday afternoon.
“Probably halftime,” Huelsman said.
The Class M second-round game between Sheehan and Lauralton Hall remained scoreless following 100 minutes of action. Huelsman was confident going into penalty kicks.
And why not? He had goalkeeper Joelle MarkAnthony on his side.
MarkAnthony saved the final PK off the foot of Sarah Haselkamp to give No. 28 seed Sheehan the 2-1 decision in PKs over host No. 11 Lauralton Hall.
“In overtime, I was thinking about it a little bit in my head, trying to prepare myself for that situation,” MarkAnthony said. “When it did come to penalty kicks, I tried to compose myself the best I could, focusing on saving the ball and reading the players to see which way was best to go (for the save).”
Said Huelsman: “She won’t give up, she won’t quit.”
The Titans (7-8-3) will play at No. 3 Waterford in the quarterfinals on Friday. It’s the Titans’ first appearance in the quarterfinals since 1998.
The Crusaders (8-4-6) ended up with six scoreless ties during the regular season, including four straight. Sheehan had two. Lauralton allowed just five goals all season long.
So once the Crusaders couldn’t cash in on their three shots in overtime (Sheehan had none), it went to penalty kicks. And both teams had been practicing them.
“One of the biggest problems with penalty kicks is you begin to overthink it,” Lauralton Hall coach Peter Trenchard said. “The worst thing you can do is change your mind at the last second, I encouraged them to be loose in what we have practiced dozens of times. … It just wasn’t our day.”
Neither team could convert on its first two PKs. MarkAnthony and Lauralton’s Emma McCarthy each made a save. Nikki Kern made the first PK for Sheehan and after Melissa Ulbrick missed wide, Deanna Funaro made the second one for the Titans.
Lauren Sell made Lauralton’s first one and Dunleavy saved Caitlin Jagoda’s attempt, setting the stage for the final kick.
Sheehan had just one shot in the first half, but six in the second half. The Crusaders finished with 11.
“I knew the longer we went into the game without scoring, the tougher it would be to get one,” Trenchard said. “They defend very well, they are tenacious. Their record is very deceiving.”
The Crusaders will be joining Sheehan as members of the Southern Connecticut Conference next fall. The Crusaders are currently in the South-West Conference.
Sheehan 0, Lauralton Hall 0 (Sheehan advances 2-1 PKs)
Sheehan 0 0 0 0 — 0
Lauralton Hall 0 0 0 0 — 0
Shots—SH: 7; LHA: 11;
Saves—SH: Joelle MarkAnthony 7; LHA: Emma McCarthy 5;
Records—Sheehan 7-8-3; Lauralton Hall 8-4-6