In pressure situations, players can rise to the occasion or wilt away. The Lady Pioneers proved Thursday in Shelbyville they are ready for the big stage.
Warren County was able to take down its District 6AAA foe in a PK shootout (3-2) on the road. The game went to overtime following a 0-0 stalemate through regulation, leading to some added drama as the two squads battled for sole possession of second place.
When the dust settled, the Lady Pioneers – by virtue of some sharp shooting and Callie Roberts playing big in the net – were left standing. Bekah Jackson, Jayla Garibaldi and Allison Escamilla provided the winning PKs as the Lady Pioneers improved to 3-2 in district games.
“It was intense, but so exciting,” said coach Kimberly Smith. “The girls worked hard for 80 minutes to get lots of stops and we had several opportunities to score. The PKs were fun and the girls enjoyed taking part in it.”
Smith, facing one of her biggest decisions yet as a first-year coach, had to select five shooters once the match went into penalty kicks. She sent up Garibaldi and Escamilla, a pair of freshmen, for the first two shots. Both were able to locate perfectly to put the Lady Pioneers up 2-0.
“They hit their first two over and another to the side of the goal, but Callie did her part by making herself big and showing effort on each one. She also got her hands on one that they made, but just barely didn’t get it,” said Smith.
With a chance to take a commanding lead, Jackson stepped up to the ball. The senior, who could go down as one of the five-best goal scorers in school history, wasn’t going to let the opportunity for a big road win slip away.
“Before the kick, I always try to know which side I'm going to so I'll have a higher success rate of making it,” said Jackson, who chose right - literally and figuratively. "I want to go in with confidence and know I'm going to make it.
"This was a big win. They beat us the first time, but we're trying to come back and at least get second. The victory definitely helped."
Jackson’s make, followed by a third Shelbyville miss in the fourth round, sealed the victory and helped the Lady Pioneers take a big step in District 6AAA play.
The district uses a point system to decide the standings, with three points given for wins and one point for ties (to the losing team in extra time). With two wins over Coffee County and the latest victory in Shelbyville, the Lady Pioneers have nine points.
Franklin County, still unbeaten in district play, has already clinched the No. 1 seed – even if the Lady Pioneers were to win Tuesday’s meeting in Winchester. Shelbyville, now third, has seven points and still has a match with Coffee County left.
Editor’s Note: Friday’s paper listed the Lady Pioneers as 6-2 winners over Coffee County last week. Warren County won the game 6-1. We apologize for the error.