KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ben Timson thought back to an interview he did after the first meeting between his team and Notre Dame, a 1-0 win.
He was prescient, prognosticative, and pretty much predicted what could happen 34 days later.
“I thought: ‘it was a dead even game and we got the goal this time,” he said. “If we play them again, it’s going to be just as even, and who knows who will get the goal that time.”
That goal belonged to Megan Heisserer in the 11th minute of extra time, a golden goal to lift Notre Dame over Springfield Catholic 2-1 in the Class 2 State Championship Game at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City.
Heisserer traversed half the field, being pressed by Kaitlin Knetzke before skirting past and burying the first goal for either team in nearly 80 minutes. A muggy day and the extended scoring drought took its toll on both sides. Catholic had only played one overtime period this season.
“There were 22 exhausted girls out there at the end of regulation. I will give a lot of credit to Springfield Catholic. They are fun to watch and tough to beat,” said Notre Dame coach Ryan Schweain.
The Lady Irish were loose walking onto the pitch, feeling familiar in their eighth final four appearance in nine years. This reflected in the boot of Kaleia Huttenlocher, who buried a pass from Ashley Andrew to put Catholic on top with less than five minutes gone.
Timson had watched this formula play out many times this spring.
“The patterns seems to be we score in the first five minutes and then the game settles in, then we scramble a bit in the first half,” he said. “In the second half, we play better, which I think we did today. Notre Dame is a good team, especially defensively, and we almost needed to be perfect on those chances.”
Sure enough, Shelby Bauwens wrangled a rebound from her own free kick to tie it at 1-1 less than seven minutes later.
Until the end of regulation, the afternoon was riddled with narrow misses and fans white-knuckling the bleachers.
Notre Dame goalkeeper Abby Rollet made eight saves, but the Lady Bulldogs benefited by well place lines of defenders denying the Lady Irish on several occasions.
Catholic could not solve the blockade for the rest of the day, even watching a penalty kick sail wide of the right post late in regulation.
“We had some chances, they had some chances, and they obviously finished one at the end there that broke our hearts. We’ve had some great players that have worked hard for a long time in this program. I couldn’t be more proud of what they did this season. ”
It was the swan song for senior Rachel Miller and Emma Skornia, with the latter continuing her career at Missouri State.
“She is our drive, passion, and she never quits. She is a tremendous leader, goal scorer, and will be hard to replace, but we’ve got a solid group of juniors and sophomore that I’m sure will step up next year and give us another opportunity.”