The Lake City and Post Falls girls soccer teams battled through 80 minutes of scoreless play followed by two 10-minute overtime periods that decided nothing in the State 5A championship game Saturday afternoon.
So the teams had to go to penalty kicks, and Lake City prevailed to capture the state title in a hard-fought final.
Post Falls (13-7), which captured its first Region I championship last week to earn its first trip to state, had beaten Lake City in two of three previous matches. The Timberwolves, who had to win a play-in match a week ago to earn a state berth, outlasted the Trojans in the match that counted the most.
"Both teams played unbelievable," second-year Post Falls coach Briggs Anderson said. "We knew it was going to be really hard. They know us really well and we know them really well. It's tough to win on PKs, that's for sure. The biggest thing is if you look back to (regionals) to now, we went through without conceding a goal. To be runners-up in state and not give up a goal, that's difficult."
It's well chronicled now, but LC had a team meeting late in the season in hopes of turning things around. The Timberwolves did just that.
"We talked about that we don't know how good we can be and we've got to keep moving forward," LC coach Matt Ruchti said. "I showed them a clip of a video of a cross country runner finishing on her hands and knees and I said, ‘Let's finish the season, let's finish what we started Aug. 7.' We just kept playing and said, ‘Why not us?'ƒ|"
LC's final record isn't glamorous at 10-6-4. That makes no never mind to Ruchti.
"Still to this day – and my group of players would agree – we still haven't played well," Ruchti said. "That's a unique thing coming into a state tournament. It's a talented group, it's an interesting group and the sky's the limit for them as far as what they can achieve."
Both teams had half a dozen scoring opportunities before the title had to be settled in a shootout.
"The net for both was very well protected," Anderson said.
All five LC shooters made their shots, the final one coming off the foot of sophomore Meaghan Bare. LC goalie Tiegan Horton made a save on Post Falls' second shot, and Horton appeared to have thwarted another. But the ball deflected to her left and then spun back into the net.
Just before the players began the shootout, Anderson smiled as reporters walked past him and said, "Kind of fitting."
Both teams had to go to extra time or a shootout to decide their state matches.
"As far as heart and pure will, this team showed that they've got that and then some," said Anderson, who graduates just one senior, four-year starter Katie King, a midfielder and the team's leader. "We've got a lot to prove and a lot to build on."
LC senior defender Kassie Torres was well aware where the Trojans' top scorer, sophomore Kelcie Hedge was, throughout the match.
"I've got to give a lot of credit to Kelcie Hedge," Torres said. "She's a really strong player up top and she's been the main one we've had a hard time with all season"
"Hedge is the most effective, if not the best player, in the state tournament," Ruchti said. "We had the luxury of seeing it all year."
Torres couldn't have written a better ending to LC's season.
"I'm so proud of my team," she said. "We've been talking about finishing and look what we got – we finished."
LC was fortunate the ball bounced its way in the shootout,
"It could have easily have gone the other way," Ruchti said. "Post Falls worked hard enough to win that game and we worked hard enough to win that game."
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