During the first rain delay of his District 7-A/AA semifinal matchup against sixth-ranked Signal Mountain, Notre Dame soccer coach Jim Schermerhorn said they would play until midnight if they had to.
His wish was granted.
The Lady Irish's Gaby Gurrola scored the clinching penalty kick right as the clock struck midnight, and third-ranked Notre Dame survived a fierce battle to defeat the Lady Eagles 5-3 in penalty kicks an d advance to Thursday's district final against second-ranked Chattanooga Christian.
Notre Dame improved to 5-9-2 for the season, while Signal ended its season at 6-4-1.
The Lady Eagles outplayed Notre Dame for large portions of the match, especially in the first 10 minutes. Moments after the kickoff, Becca Haskins fired a shot that glanced off the side post. They took a 1-0 lead moments later when Becca Blevins fed Lila Fisher for a goal.
With about 15 minutes in the half, Notre Dame's Sophie Mullin was fouled outside the 18, giving the Lady Irish a free kick. Gurrola's high shot went over Signal keeper Anna Althaus -- who played an overall great game and finished with seven saves -- to tie the match.
The lightning delay lasted about an hour and 15 minutes, which gave Schermerhorn an opportunity to coach his players up.
"I thought we were a little nervous early on," he said. "We had the opportunity to talk some things over and I thought we played better after that."
The second half and overtimes were about perseverance and overall grit. A total of 59 fouls were called in the match, with Signal being the culprit of 32. Signal's Mary Meaghan Robinson was given a soft red card -- two yellow cards -- and ejected in overtime, while Notre Dame's Sophie Mullin was given a yellow.
In the shootout, Ashley Henry, Liz Kidwell, Laura Champion, Lacey Mahoney and Gurrola made PKs for the Lady Irish. Blevins, Eryn Turner and Fisher scored for Signal.
"I thought we had the better of the possession tonight, but it's up to our girls to finish," Signal coach Pam Shelton said. "The conditions after the rain delay didn't favor our style, but I always tell the girls to not let the referees or conditions affect our play."
Chattanooga Christian cruised to a 3-0 victory over Sequatchie County in the other 7-A/AA semifinal. Kruesi Brock, Natalie Thedford and Caroline Gunter scored for the Lady Chargers, who improved to 14-3-2 for the year.
* In District 5-AAA, Soddy-Daisy defeated Ooltewah 4-0 , but Cleveland and McMinn County did not get the chance to finish their match, which was tied 1-all going into overtime. The match will resume tonight at 7 at the McMinn County Soccer Complex.