The Muscatine girls soccer team has an unusual strategy when it comes to penalty kicks.
“Usually you take the second kick,” coach Nate Meineke said.
Dating back to last year, however, the Muskies have opted to take the first kick in penalty kicks.
“I like the confidence,” Meineke said. “They’re saying ‘hey, we’re going to show you what we’re going to do first and we’re going to knock them in the back of the net.’ We were in three PK shootouts last, kicked first in all three and won every single one of them.”
It may be a new season, but Muscatine got the same result in Friday night’s match against North Scott. After 100 minutes of soccer wasn’t enough to declare a winner, Muscatine goalie Gracie Brossart made a diving save on North Scott’s Faith Rains to give the Muskies a 4-3 (7-6) penalty kick win over the Lancers.
After making the save, Brossart stood up and sprinted to greet a group of teammates to celebrate the win.
“I just knew I had to do this for myself and my team,” Brossart said. “That was the only thing on my mind. … It feels awesome.”
However, long before Friday’s game ever got to penalty kicks, it appeared Muscatine (3-0) was on its way to another routine win.
Perla Rios scored the game’s first goal in the 23rd minute to give the Muskies a 1-0 lead. Then, nine minutes later, Sophia Thomas floated a shot over the outstretched arms of North Scott goalie Teagan Goodney.
Players stopped playing, assuming the ball would roll into the back of the net. However, it bumped the post, and the lone player who didn’t stop playing, Kylee Klimes, knocked the ball in to give Muscatine a 2-0 lead.
“It was just hustle on Klimes’ part,” Meineke said. “You’re taught to play until the whistle blows and she’s a hard-nosed player. She’ll go until you tell her to stop twice.”
The Muskies took that 2-0 lead until halftime, but Meineke warned his team that the Lancers (4-2) are never out of it. That proved to be true, and Rylie Rucker started the North Scott rally with a goal in the 49th minute. Four minutes later, Paige Blaskovich scored off an assist by Rucker to tie the game 2-2.
“We lost our shape a couple of times,” Meineke said of his defense. “We allowed North Scott to get more people on the weak side of the ball, lost track of where they were on the field and allowed them to switch sides pretty easily.”
North Scott finished with 14 shots on goal compared to 10 for Muscatine.
However, Meineke liked the way his team responded to adversity all night, starting with a goal by Natalie Lingle off an assist by Thomas to put the Muskies back on top 3-2 in the 58th minute. However, North Scott’s Marley Longenecker scored the equalizing goal in the 69th minute, and the game remained tied 3-3 through the final 21 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime before heading to penalty kicks.
Still, the Muskies remained confident.
“I think most of our girls are pretty confident in their strike,” Meineke said. “We told them before they went out just pick a side and go with it.”
After the teams each sank three of five penalty kicks, they headed to sudden death. Trinity Christy, Vada Fridley, Meredith Connor and Emma Freyermuth all converted penalty kicks in sudden death before Brossart made the save to clinch the win in what was the first real test for the Muskies this season.
“I’m just looking to see where they’re looking and thinking the opposite,” said Brossart, who finished the game with 11 saves. “You never want to go to PKs but we pulled through.”
Iowa City West 4, Muscatine 0: The score doesn’t show it, but Muscatine boys soccer coach Jose Varela says his team played a better match Friday in Muscatine than it did in a 3-1 loss to North Scott a week ago.
“We had some moments where we were moving the ball well and there was decent communication,” Varela said. “They’re a good team and the capitalized on our mistakes.”
Iowa City West (4-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening half over Muscatine (2-4). A rally at that point would have been difficult, but not impossible for the Muskies. But any hopes of that ended early in the second half when the Trojans scored back-to-back goals in the span of one minute to take a 4-0 lead and put the game well out of reach.
“We weren’t anticipating the flow of the game,” Varela said. “Our defense was caught flat-footed and by the time you try to catch up with them they have a lot of speed so we couldn’t do that.”
Muscatine missed an early opportunity when Hector Martinez’s free kick clanked off the post, and the Muskies only mustered one shot on goal.