By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
In the final practice before a district tournament championship showdown with Madison Southern, the Lady Indians spent some extra time working on penalty kicks.
And with good reason.
After all, last’s year 44th District title game between the long-time rivals went to a shootout.
But, that extra practice didn’t really seem to help Leeanne Ogle all that much.
“I was really struggling,” the Central junior said of Wednesday’s practice.
She didn’t let that bother her at all when the district title was on the line Thursday at Madison Central.
Ogle ripped a shot into the right corner of the net on the final penalty shot, giving the Lady Indians their first district title since 2006. Madison Central (17-2-1) also got shootout goals from Sarah Shackelford, Sarah Franklin and Maryssa Stewart and a big save from keeper Samantha Shepherd after both teams played to a scoreless draw through regulation and two five-minute overtime periods.
The Lady Indians won the shootout, 4-3.
Both teams advance to next week’s 11th Region Tournament.
“Southern had a lot of attacks,” Central coach Chris Dunham said. “They are so freaking quick. Our defense held strong. We shut them out again. It’s a big accomplishment for the back four and for (goalie) Sam (Shepherd). We had some chances. They had some chances.”
The game was a defensive battle, which was expected.
Central had only allowed 12 goals all season and had not allowed a goal in eight games. Southern (17-3-0) had only allowed 13 goals on the season while posting 12 shutouts.
The only regular-season meeting resulted in a 2-0 win for Central.
Both teams had plenty of scoring chances, but no one was able to find the net until the shootout.
“Southern is an incredible team,” Ogle said. “I wouldn’t want to play any other type of game. There’s so much pressure and quick decisions. I couldn’t ask for a better night.”
Ogle may have been a bit nervous, still she wanted to be a part of the shootout.
“When he was going down the line (tonight) asking who wanted to take PKs, I just said ‘Yes. Yes, I want to take it.’ Coach just told me to compose myself and I went up there and I was really focused,” Ogle said.
Both goalies made diving saves on the first shots — Shepherd stopping Annie Ware and Southern’s Kristyn Murphy stopping Kennedy Harden.
The next six shooters all scored — Southern’s McKenzie Bicknell, Rachel Ramey and Murphy (the goaltender) and Central’s Shackelford, Stewart and Franklin.
Southern’s Dakota Gadd sent her shot over the crossbar, setting the stage for Ogle’s game-winner.
“This team deserves it,” Dunham said. “They worked their butts off.”
Central lost to Southern 2-1 last year on penalty kicks in the district final. The Lady Eagles had won three of the past four championships.
“It was a nice little bit of revenge,” Dunham said. “It feels pretty good.”