Hannah Hennessey played the role of hero for the Assumption soccer team Wednesday night.
The freshman forward’s goal with 1:13 left in the second overtime lifted the Rockets to a 3-2 win over Manual in the Seventh Region tournament semifinals at The Assumption Green.
The Rockets (16-5-3), who are No. 4 in the state’s Maher Rankings, will face familiar foe and archrival Sacred Heart (17-4-1) in Friday night’s 6 p.m. final. The top-ranked Valkyries, the two-time reigning region champions who have won eight out of the last nine titles, knocked off Male 2-0 in Wednesday’s second semifinal.
Fresh-legged Hennessey got on the field with only about two minutes left in the first overtime, then ended the match less than 75 seconds before it was headed to penalty kicks.
On a counterattack, Abby Glover passed the ball ahead to Hennessey, who got behind the Lady Crimsons’ last line of defense and drove a shot into the left corner of the net for the game-ending goal.
“It was a great ball,” Hennessey said of the feed from Glover. “I just knew that I needed to score.”
Afterward, Assumption coach Kenyon Meyer was also quick with an assist – to his assistant coaches, including Cy Tucker, the long-time South Oldham head coach who retired after leading the Dragons to their seventh state title last year.
“I’d like to claim that it was my ingenious decision to put her in the game, but Cy Tucker and Ollie Barber talked me into putting her in,” Meyer said. “And we saw why Cy Tucker’s won seven state championships based on that coaching decision.”
The Rockets’ third win of the season over Manual put them into the regional final for the 11th time in 12 years. Assumption previously topped the Crimsons 2-1 on Sept. 3 at the Green and 3-2 Sept. 19 in the Lexington Catholic Invitational.
“We had a big rivalry because we fought a lot the last game,” Rockets goalie Ellie Coke said. “It was very dirty, so everybody wanted to come out for blood (on Wednesday).”
It was No. 8 Manual (15-5) that drew first blood, though, as senior standout Allison Whitfield continued her sensational season with her 44th goal.
Assumption got the equalizer 21 minutes later from sophomore forward Rachael Reisert.
It stayed 1-all until the ninth minute of the second half, when the Crimsons were whistled for tripping in the box, which resulted in McKenzie Riggs’ successful penalty kick.
“That (call) was questionable at best, that’s the way I put it to the referee,” Manual coach Rick Underwood said.
The Crimsons went into attack mode after that, though, peppering Coke with a flurry of shots. The senior turned away eight shots on goal in the second half, including several from Whitfield, to help the Rockets keep their lead.
“They’re goalkeeper won the game for them,” Underwood said. “She made five or six stops, any one of which should have gone in.”
Coke, though, couldn’t stop an incredible shot by Manual junior standout Emina Ekic with just under 4 minutes left in regulation. Ekic, who missed the Crimsons’ three previous games because she was playing with the United States Under-17 Women’s National Team in Portugal, converted a left-footed half-bicycle kick from near the 18 that sailed over Coke’s head and into the net.
That set the stage for Hennessey’s heroics.
“They had a world-class player score a world-class goal with three minutes left,” Meyer said. “It’s very difficult for a team to come back in overtime and respond after that and I’m just really impressed with the character of our team to be able to rebound from that and win the game in overtime.”
GOALS: Assumption 3 (Rachael Reisert, McKenzie Riggs, Hannah Hennessey), Manual 2 (Allison Whitfield, Emina Ekic)