PKs trip up North in heartbreaking state semifinal loss

North Davidson’s girls’ soccer team was one penalty kick away from doing something no other Davidson County soccer team has ever done — play for a state championship.

The west region’s second-seeded Black Knights lost on penalty kicks to fourth-seeded South Point (7-6) in the 3-A state semifinals Tuesday night before a huge crowd in Welcome.

With the PKs even at 6-6 after eight shots each, North’s Emily Bauer took the ninth shot only to have South Point’s keeper snuff it out. The Raiders then booted through their kick to secure the victory and ignite a wild celebration on the field.

“This was our first game this year with PKs, and when you get to that point, it’s 50-50,” North coach Jose Duarte said. “I’ve been coaching a while, and I’ve been on both sides of these. I hate it had to end like this, for our team, for our seniors. But … it’s part of the game.”

The two heavyweights went toe to toe, kick for kick and defensive move for defensive move for the entirety of regulation.

The Raiders had the only real scoring threat with a line-drive kick from 25 yards out with a minute to play that was gobbled up by North sophomore goalie Kelsey Wrenn, who had a sensational game for the home team.

With the game scoreless after 40 minutes, Reese Sullivan found the back of the net on a free kick for North in the first 10-minute overtime period. But South Point answered in the second OT with a kick from 20 yards out that was just out of the reach of a leaping Wrenn.

The Raiders kept the pressure on North’s defense and dominated possession for the later part of the second OT and most of the two ensuing five-minute, sudden-death OTs. Wrenn came up with some big saves, and the Knights did just enough to send the game to PKs.

“We were just trying to find a way to get out of pressure,” Duarte said. “At that point, it’s two 10-minute overtimes and two five-minute overtimes, so everyone has been playing a while. We found a way (to stay tied), but I really thought Reese’s goal would do it for us.”

North’s first PK by Kyndall Moore sailed high, while South Point converted on its first. Reese Sullivan scored on the second PK, but so did the Raiders, keeping it 2-1 in favor of the visitors. After Keelan Moore scored for North on the third PK, Wrenn made a save, bringing the Knights even at 3-3. It stayed that way until the seventh PK, with Chelsea Prescott, Charlotte Sullivan and Ella Coen converting kicks. Both teams missed on their seventh kicks and converted on their eighth, with Lily Sullivan tallying for the Knights. That set the stage for the decisive ninth and final PK.

“(South Point) earned it,” Duarte said. “They are very good defensively and knew what to do with the ball and without the ball. We were right there, but they had that opportunity in that second overtime and took advantage.”

South Point, which also won its fourth-round game on PKs, improved to 19-2-2 and will advance to this weekend’s state championship game

North finished 21-3, and Duarte became emotional when trying to reflect on the season.

“Well, it just brings a big smile to my face,” he said through tears. “I am happy for my players, for our seven seniors, who are a special bunch. I’m just proud of all of these players. And seeing the community come out and support like this. This is great for everybody, and bringing this atmosphere to Davidson County is awesome. I have that appreciation for the season and I’m so happy to play a small part of these student athletes lives.”

7 Black Knights make all conference

North had seven players named all conference. Reese Sullivan earned defensive player of the year honors for the Black Knights, who won the Mid Piedmont Conference for the fourth straight season. Other all conference players were Kyndall Moore, Keelan Moore, Prescott, Lilly Sullivan, Charlotte Sullivan and Coen.

Carlton Hurt is a freelance sports writer and former staff sports reporter for The Dispatch. Reach him at carltonshurt@yahoo.com.

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