ELDERSBURG — Ashleigh Brown stepped up to the penalty kick line as Liberty’s fifth player to take a shot.
The junior midfielder had just watched four of her teammates do the same, three of which found the back of the net with Winters Mill goalie Reilly Lockwood standing guard.
Winters Mill’s Shelby Reppe took a shot that was saved by Lions goalie Caitlin Mulholland to keep the score even — it was up to Brown to finish Thursday night’s Class 2A West playoff game
She was immediately swarmed by her Lions teammates when her shot sailed out of Lockwood’s reach and connected with the mesh.
The Lions defeated the Carroll County Athletic League champions 4-3 in penalty kicks to take in a Section 1 quarterfinal and advance to face Oakdale on Tuesday.
“I just knew that if I missed I wouldn’t [live it down, that’s for sure,” Brown said. “You get up there and you have to show that you have confidence, even if you feel like you’re going to throw up on the inside.”
Winters Mill’s Erin Snyder, Kyla Holt, and Megan Paschall each converted penalty kicks for the Falcons — Kaitlyn Belfield’s shot was stopped by Mulholland.
Kasey Lamb took the first shot for the Lions and scored. Emily Oliver and Jordan Townsend also posted PKs, while Sophie Lewis’ shot was saved by Lockwood.
A scoreless regulation turned into a back-and-forth battle quickly, and neither team was willing to let up on applying pressure. Mulholland and Lockwood each came up with crucial saves for their respective teams — Mulholland caught and rolled over the ball amidst a flurry of Falcons early in the second half.
Lockwood caught, and punched out, various shots as the Lions peppered the Falcons in the second half.
Lewis took a shot on goal in the first overtime period that was stopped by Lockwood, and Holt tried to find the back of the net with a shot in the second OT, but that was halted by Mulholland.
After 100 minutes of soccer without a goal, the end result came down to penalty kicks.
Lions coach Danielle Prietz said the girls worked on PKs in practice to be prepared, just in case, and she had a feeling the girls would win if the game came down to them.
“Our four losses [this year] were by one goal in the first eight minutes,” Prietz said. “After watching film, we changed our lineups, we changed formations and it was really helping us get forward. With them being able to see what we could do, they were able to execute and do it well. Watching film is a big piece to help us keep moving forward, so we will probably analyze this again and see what happens with Oakdale.”
Mulholland made 14 saves for the Lions and Brown called her the “spine” of the team.
“If we didn’t have her, the season would have gone completely differently,” Brown said. “We’re so thankful, all of us, on and off the field, we just see her make these amazing saves and we think, ‘We could never do that,’ it’s just amazing.”
Lockwood made 15 saves in the season finale for the Falcons (4-5-3).
“Every team goes through their growing pains and with this group, they gave me everything they had today,” Falcons coach Denny Snyder said. “We had a couple of opportunities and I feel like we played a great 100 minutes. I tip my hat to Liberty, they found a way to advance and I wish them luck as they move forward.”
Saves: WM-15 (Reilly Lockwood); L-14 (Caitlin Mulholland)
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Halftime: Tied, 0-0.