By Mike Deak
WARSAW – Everyone hates how it ends. Homestead hates it just a little less.
The dreaded penalty kick shootout went two rounds Saturday night before Homestead could knock out Warsaw in the championship slugfest of the Warsaw Girls Soccer Sectional.
Very few people enjoy seeing the shootout culminate soccer competition, from organizations at the national levels to scholastic play down to the youth levels. But as in place to keep the tournament moving per the IHSAA, Homestead and Warsaw waged a battle for the ages, playing high level soccer for 94 minutes but sitting drawn at 1-1 after full time plus the bonus sessions.
The shootout had Homestead’s Ryann Parrish miss her try clanking off the post, and Warsaw converted its first four shots. As Homestead hit its fourth try in round five, Megan DeBoest had a chance to end the sectional but sent her shot over the crossbar.
Each team hit their next two, but both Homestead and Warsaw missed their next shot, Rachel Parrish over the bar and Madison Roush smothering Abbi Kohler’s seed to the corner. Madison Balf and Lucie Parrish each made their next shots, and Kate Deloe made hers to keep Warsaw in line. Sarah Kratzsch’s tying effort, however, went sailing well over the bar, putting to rest Homestead’s fourth straight sectional championship.
“You never know with these things, and no one likes it, you just have to go win it,” said Warsaw head coach Jon Hoover. “Obviously not how you want to see a game like this end.”
It put the lid on what was a very physical, tactical and clinical performance from both sides, Homestead ranked No. 2 in the state and the Tigers desperate to find retribution for a 4-0 loss to Sparty during the regular season and a stinging loss at last year’s sectional.
For as much hype came with the Homestead bandwagon, which included buzz about midfielder Amelia White’s soon-to-be call-up to the U.S. National Team in the coming weeks, Warsaw didn’t play like a team interested in just being a stop on Homestead’s victory tour. In fact, Sam Aalbue collected a smart pass from Corissa Koontz and lobbed a perfectly placed shot over Roush’s fingertips for a 1-0 lead after just six minutes.
While Homestead still played like the elite program it is, Warsaw controlled most of the tempo of the first half despite only having two shot attempts in the first 40 minutes to the eight shots from the visitors.
Aalbue had two golden opportunities to double the lead in the 50th minute, heading a cross right to Roush and just seconds later again putting foot to ball off a Koontz pass, the spinning shot zipping right to Roush on the goal line.
The next shot taken in the game might have been the least ambitious attempt of the night, but it was the most important of Homestead’s tournament thus far. Ryann Parrish collected a stolen Warsaw pass, and from about 30 yards out, sent a shot to goal. As instinctual as Warsaw keeper Ellie Schenck had been to that point in the match, her read was slow on the lofting ball and it sailed into the net for a tie game.
About 10 minutes later, though, Schenck made up for it and more when she stonewalled White one-v-one with a kick save and a beauty. White had another chance in the second overtime session, but sauced the shot well wide on what looked like a gimme goal for the Fort Wayne sensation. White had over a half-dozen opportunities on the night, but only two shots on target.
“Her timing was great tonight,” said Hoover of Schenck. “Her footwork was great, her timing was solid coming off the net. Her breakaways, she came off at the perfect time, and meeting the ball right when it comes off the foot, she was on tonight. It’s great to see her develop that and develop courage and confidence. This is the probably the most confident we’ve seen her.”
The game was marred by a gruesome leg injury to Warsaw defender Kierstin Parker in the first overtime session, Parker having to be carried off the field and out of the complex in a long stoppage of play. Parker was one of a host of Warsaw defensive stalwarts that kept the Tigers alive. Zoe Bergan tasked and forced White away and outside of danger on numerous occasions, Jordan Love did a masterful job of stuffing the continuous pressure Homestead put on Warsaw’s left flank, and the trio of Kohler Taylon Chastain and DeBoest took turns shutting down Homestead opportunities.
Homestead would take 21 shots in the match, but only nine were on target, Schenck making eight stops. Roush only had to make three stops, one of those a collision save in the fifth minute on a miscommunication that Bonnie Hampton nearly got to first.
The championship for Homestead (18-0) will send them home to host the regional semi-finals on Wednesday, earning a date against No. 1 Noblesville (16-0-1). Warsaw will pack up at 11-7-1 overall, wondering what if.
“Our team was so ready for this game,” Hoover said. “We knew everything we wanted to accomplish and we did it. It just didn’t happen for us. That is just the game of soccer.”