10.17 model girls

McKenna Tuttle has, admittedly, never enjoyed shootouts.

“They are awful,” the senior Model Laboratory goalkeeper said. “They are really nerve-racking.”

She might not like them, but Tuttle has turned in some awfully good performances in those nerve-racking moments.

The senior led the Lady Patriots to a shootout win earlier this season over Madison Central. On Thursday, Tuttle came up big once again.

The keeper made one big save — and also scored one big goal — that led Model to a long-awaited championship.

The Lady Patriots claimed their first 44th District title in 11 years with a shootout win over Madison Southern in Richmond. The game was tied 1-1 through regulation and two five-minute overtimes.

In the shootout, Tuttle and Payton Sparks scored to lead Model to a 2-1 win.

Both teams will advance to next week’s 11th Region Tournament.

Model will take on Great Crossing (8-1) at 11 a.m. Saturday in Richmond, while Southern is set to take on Henry Clay at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Lexington.

“It’s been long enough,” Tuttle said of the Lady Patriots’ first district title since 2009. “Our goal was to win the district, advance to region and see what we can do. As a senior, this is what we have been waiting for.”

They knew it wouldn’t be easy.

The only regular-season match-up between Model and Southern went to a shootout. In that game, the standout senior was sidelined with an injury and the Lady Eagles came away with a victory.

This time around, Tuttle was back in the net.

“She is a senior. She’s experienced. She’s confident,” Model coach Mike Austin said of Tuttle. “She has wanted this for years. I am so proud of her.”

It looked like the rematch might not go into overtime.

Rebecca Otieno gave Model a 1-0 lead on a goal off an assist from Anniston Bray early in the second half.

After that, Southern started to take control.

The Lady Eagles dominated possession and put tons of pressure on Tuttle before Kayleigh Moberly banged home a rebound after a free kick with 16:41 left in regulation.

“They poured it on offensively,” Austin said of Southern. “They started playing a lot better in the attack. Our defense was stretched a little bit, but they did the job. They recovered and people covered for the mistakes.”

Tuttle opened the shootout with a kick that Southern freshman keeper Claire Cress got a hand on, but the ball spun away and barely crossed the goal line.

“That wasn’t my best PK, but it worked,” Tuttle said.

After Southern’s Abby Sheffer missed the net, Sparks stepped up and hit the net to give Model a 2-0 lead.

“In practice recently, my PKs have been off a little recently,” Sparks said. “So, I was nervous that it would not go in. I just did what I usually do. I didn’t think too much about it.”

The Lady Patriots wouldn’t score again.

They didn’t need to, though.

Southern’s Kaley Savia missed the net and Mallory Robinson scored. But, Tuttle made a diving save on Kayara Savia in the fourth round.

On the final shot, Cress sent a shot over the crossbar.

“Enough (shooters) made it that we got through,” Austin said.

The Lady Patriots have won six of their past seven matches and now have a chance to make even more history. Model has not won a region tournament game since 2006.

“These girls deserve it because of their attitude and work ethic,” Austin said.

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