OTTUMWA — Penalty kicks have never been at the forefront of practice sessions for either the Fairfield or Ottumwa high school girls soccer teams this season.
Both teams may want to rethink that strategy, considering they’re already quite familiar with them.
Fairfield squandered a pair of one-goal leads in the second half, but goalie Trisha Westphal made huge saves in overtime, and the Trojans outdueled the Bulldogs on penalties for a 3-2 victory Tuesday at Walsh Field.
Both teams were playing their second straight match that went to penalties.
“We’ve devoted like one practice to penalties. This is the most I’ve seen our team go to PKs,” Fairfield coach Brittany Winslow said. “Our girls seem to get that one-goal lead, and they sit on that cushion. That’s something we have to quit doing.”
Fairfield goalie Trisha Westphal stopped Ottumwa’s Holly Leffler in the fifth round of penalties, preserving Fairfield’s 3-2 advantage in the shootout. Both Westphal and Ottumwa goalie Savannah Rupp made dazzling, all-or-nothing saves when the match became free-wheeling in the second half and overtime.
“This doesn’t feel like a loss to me, because our players worked so hard together,” said Ottumwa coach Whitney Reber, whose team fell to Centerville on penalties during a tournament Saturday. “PKs have not been at the top of the list for us, but a lot of games could be like this for us.”
The Trojans took the opening lead about 15 minutes in on an own goal following a corner kick by Clare Else.
That lead held until there were 16 minutes left in regulation, when Ottumwa’s Alicia Chacon ran around and through Fairfield’s players for about 60 yards, sent a pass to the top of the penalty area to Natalhya Argueta Cox, who blew it past Westphal to tie the game.
The teams then scored three minutes part. Fairfield’s Emily McAvan split Ottumwa’s defense, and shot past Rupp to make it 2-1 with 9:28 left.
The Bulldogs continued to apply pressure with their speed, as Cox found the far corner of the net to tie the game again.
“We were tired, but they had a lot of speed and controlled the ball very well,” Winslow said. “We really tried to contain them as much as we could. I think Emily was a little faster than their defense on her goal. Our focus was to try to get as many through-balls as we could.”
Ottumwa almost won it in the final minute, as Emily Grooms sprinted in toward the goal, only to be denied a goal by the hard-charging Westphal in a collision.
Cox hit the crossbar a minute into the first overtime, then McAvan could have ended it after splitting the defense again. She fired a shot that Rupp stopped on an aggressive play, and McAvan picked up the rebound and shot wide of the open net.
In the second overtime, Cox dribbled in from the corner, only to be denied by Westphal near the post.
Rupp turned aside Fairfield’s first two penalty kicks, but McAvan, Erica Bochmann and Delaney Breen scored in succession, while Westphal stopped Leffler along the goal line to preserve the win. Cox and Chacon scored Ottumwa’s penalty kicks.
If anything, Ottumwa showed it is a much-improved team. The Bulldogs were quick through the middle and put the pressure on for a bulk of the game.
“We have so many options this year. The shots we’re taking are accurate shots,” Reber said. “Our focus has been on connecting passes because we have the players who can do that.”
Winslow credited her sophomore goalie’s performance. Ottumwa fired 37 shots in the contest.
“She really stepped up tonight,” Winslow said. “Our defense is brand-new, and she’s doing a lot for us.”
Fairfield visits Washington Thursday, while Ottumwa hosts Oskaloosa in a varsity-only contest Thursday at Walsh.
Chad Drury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter @ChadDrury.
Fairfield 2, Ottumwa 2 (Fairfield won on penalty kicks, 3-2)
Fairfield 1 0 0 (3) — 3
Ottumwa 0 2 0 (2) — 2
First half — 1, Fairfield, own goal, 14th minute. Second half — 2, Ottumwa, Natalhyn Argueta Cox (Alicia Chacon assist), 63rd minute. 3, Fairfield, Emily McAvan (unassisted), 70th minute. 4, Ottumwa, Cox (Esther Peralta), 73rd minute.
Penalty kicks — Fairfield: McAvan, Erica Bochmann, Delaney Breen (vs. Savannah Rupp). Ottumwa: Cox, Chacon (vs. Trisha Westphal).
Shots on goal 16 21
Saves 19 14
Goal kicks 12 7
Free kicks 7 5
Corner kicks 7 6
Records: Fairfield 2-1, Ottumwa 1-4.