Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – It’s not uncommon for the goalkeeper to play the role of hero in a match decided in a penalty kick shootout.
That was the case for Regina senior keeper Courtney Kessler on Monday.
It was how Kessler sealed the Regals’ 2-1 win over Clear Creek Amana in Tiffin that was a big unusual for a goal keeper.
Kessler provided the match-clinching penalty kick to snap a 3-3 tie in the shootout as Regina improved to 5-3 on the season with its second consecutive win.
“We practice pks every day and the more you practice something the better you get at it,” Kessler said. “I was really calm and a lot of my teammates had great composure during the shootout.”
Kessler kept her cool throughout the shootout.
After stopping the first Clear Creek Amana attempt in the shootout Kessler allowed three consecutive successful attempts as Clear Creek Amana took a 3-2 lead after four attempts.
The Clippers had an opportunity to close out the shootout but its fifth attempt by Halle Bormann rolled just left of the post.
Regina pulled even on a successful attempt by senior Madelyn Greve that set the stage for Kessler’s heroics.
“I think that’s the biggest thing with a goal keeper is the ability to move on and not have it get into your head,” Regina coach Anne Larew said. “Clearly it didn’t get into her head but not only did she make a stop but she had the added pressure to step up and take the kick too,” Larew said. “She’s been doing a great job of it in practice and so I thought she deserved the opportunity.”
Kessler made a diving attempt of a hard struck Ellery Sandersfeld attempt to give Regina the edge.
The senior keeper than stepped up and calmly hammered a shot into the upper left corner of the goal to secure the win.
“I practice taking penalty kicks at practice and I knew I was the next person up,” Kessler said. “I tried to keep my mind super clear and I was excited to be in that moment because I knew I could do it.”
Regina jumped to an early led when Grace Gaarde scored her team-leading 16th goal in the opening minute.
“We really focus on starting off very strong,” Gaarde said. “Natalie and I are usually up top and right off the bat we want to sprint and go at it. We were connecting passes at the top and I managed to dribble around and get a shot off.”
Clear Creek Amana (3-2) got an equalizer that ultimately forced overtime when freshmen Lena Evans scored with 19:57 remaining.
That was the final goal as the two teams played 20 scoreless minutes of overtime to set up the shootout.
“It’s nerve wracking but our team and our defense in particular does a great job of staying calm and keeping composure and working together,” Kessler said. “Honestly I think that helps a lot.”
Kessler who is in her second full time season as the starting keeper came up big in the shootout.
“There is no one I have more confidence in than her,” Gaarde said of Kessler. “She has proved time and time again she can do it. She just knows what she is doing back there and she fits there perfectly.”