REGION 3-A/AA CHAMPIONSHIP
EAST HAMILTON 0, GRACE ACADEMY 0
(East Hamilton advances on PKs, 3-2)
Penalty-kick goals: Mona Doghman, Danielle Branham, Emiley Saddler (EH); Liz Mouw, Emily Clark (G). Shots on goal: East Hamilton, 14-10. Saves: Abbey Bosco 10 (G); Kendra Ivins 9 (EH). Records: East Hamilton 13-6-1; Grace 12-7-1.
It could be written that East Hamilton goalkeeper Kendra Ivins "saved" the day for the Lady Hurricanes soccer team. It would be hard to argue against that, considering the circumstances.
Ivins notched nine saves, then added three more in a penalty-kick shootout as East Hamilton was able to claim their first-ever Region 3-A/AA championship with a 3-2 shootout victory over Grace Academy Thursday at Grace. The teams tied 0-0 through overtime.
Eighth-ranked East Hamilton (13-6-1) will host third-ranked Notre Dame (6-11-1), which fell in a PKs shootout to Chattanooga Christian. The Lady Golden Eagles (12-7-1) will visit second-ranked Lady Chargers (17-3-2).
Ivins, the District 6-A/AA most valuable player, said the team recently began practicing PK situations in practice once the postseason started, but the environment and pressure of the moment was "way different."
"I just had to keep my head in it," she said. The senior saved the final three Grace attempts, with shots by Sierra Nunley and Rachel Carter being fired right at her, then ranging to her right to knock away a Holly Badger attempt to seal the victory.
"I just read her hips, and once she hit it, my reflexes just got me to where I needed to be," she said.
East Hamilton finished with 14 attempts, compared to 10 for Grace. The Lady Golden Eagles' defense prevented the Lady Hurricanes from posing a serious threat in the box, led by the efforts of Kelsey Hall and Hannah Rogers.
The visitors won a regular-season match between the two 5-0.
"We expected them to be improved," East Hamilton coach John Millard said. "I knew it was going to be a much tougher game. At this point, they're all tough."
Mona Doghman, Danielle Branham and Emiley Saddler scored in the shootout for the Lady Hurricanes.
"I'm just thrilled for the girls," Millard said. "This was a tough match and both teams played really hard. It was a lot of back and forth, but I'm just thrilled that we had Kendra in between the posts."
Grace coach Gretchen Hammel was disappointed with the final outcome but encouraged by the fact the season continues.
"I feel like we deserved to win the match," she said. "We outplayed them ... but their keeper played well.
"It's a tough loss, but I had to remind the girls the season's not over."