With the playoff bracket setting up a battle of Rapid City vs. Sioux Falls for the state girls soccer championship, it was fitting that either Lincoln or O’Gorman would represent the state’s largest city.
Fitting because the two squads met for the Class AA title a year ago, with the Patriots emerging victorious, and exciting, because it added something extra to Tuesday’s semifinal at McEneaney Field.
The game itself also delivered, as the Knights advanced to Saturday’s title game with a 3-1 penalty-shootout win after tying 1-1 in regulation. Theresa Pujado’s goal on the fourth kick iced the game and followed goals by teammates Jillian Gauer and Mackenzie Ekern, as well as two saves (a third hit off the post) by keeper Jillian Barkus.
“Typical semifinal, championship-type of game, the two teams came out here with nothing to lose and battled all day,” said O’Gorman coach Ryan Beier. “I tell you what, in a shootout for a freshman keeper to make those big saves like that, Jillian [Barkus] really stepped up.”
The match, which spanned over 100 minutes, started in favor of Lincoln (7-4-2), as the Patriots spent much of the first half in O’Gorman territory.
Lincoln got a clean look in the 23rd minute as sophomore forward Mollie Kelly broke free and tripped up the defender to force a one-on-one with Barkus before striking it into the net.
“They outplayed us in the first half,” Beier said, “but I told them I didn’t think one goal would beat us. We had to come out and change the tempo of the game in the second half.”
Tuesday scoreboard: Class AA soccer semifinals, Storm schedule
The Knights basically flipped the script and went on the attack following halftime. With O’Gorman pressuring Lincoln’s goal, a Patriots foul led to a penalty kick for Alyssa Weidler in the 50th minute and the senior forward delivered to tie it up 1-1.
Both squads traded scoring opportunities in the two overtime periods, with the closest shot on goal coming in the final 30 seconds before the penalty shootout.
Michaela Mohr, chasing a pass to the corner, teed up a lob shot that hung in the air for a few seconds before clanging off the top of the post above Barkus’s head.
“We were going for it. You want to give yourself a chance, and I think we gave ourselves chances,” said Lincoln coach Steve Burckhalter. “At the end of the day we just didn’t put this one away.”
“I think what you saw here are two teams that are very passionate and hardworking, and you hate to see someone lose,” Burckhalter said. “Unfortunately that was us.”
Out West, Rapid City Central defeated Stevens 2-1, setting up the championship match Saturday in Mitchell against the Knights. The game is set for 1 p.m. at the Pepsi-Cola Soccer Complex.
Aberdeen 2, Lincoln 0 in Aberdeen — The Aberdeen Central boys’ soccer team had a frank discussion with the defending state champions.
“It’s never easy to tell the defending champion that’s been there so many times, ‘We’re going to go this time,’ “ said Central head coach Steve Cogley.
But tell it did, as the Golden Eagles claimed a 2-0 win on Tuesday night.
With the win, Central earned itself a spot in the state championship finals, where the Golden Eagles will take on Rapid City Stevens Saturday at 11 a.m. in Mitchell.
Central scored a goal in each half of Tuesday’s victory, one off the foot off Austin Tofflemire and the other from Jesse Margolies.
Tofflemire scored with 6:09 left in the opening half, finding an open space after a pass from Tyson Miller.
“Huge,” Tofflemire said. “It was huge. It came at the perfect time. It felt great to score, too, because I hadn’t scored in a few games.”
After Margolies scored in the second half, the Patriots, were not about to let up on the pressure. In fact, Lincoln created several chances in the second half, but couldn’t slip anything past Central goalkeeper Joe Hilsendeger.
Saturday’s game will be a rematch of a Sept. 5 meeting between the two teams in Rapid City. Central handed the Raiders their lone loss of the season with a 1-0 victory.
— Aberdeen American News