Providence’s girls’ soccer team couldn’t buy a goal – in regulation or overtime – during its match Tuesday against Lake Norman.
However, once the match went into penalty kicks, the Panthers proved to be golden.
Providence edged the Wildcats in a penalty-kick shootout 4-3 to win the N.C. 4A Western Regional, returning to the state final for the first time since 2006.
Panthers goalkeeper Lizzie Wilson came up with a diving save on Lake Norman’s second penalty kick attempt, while Providence (22-1-1) went 4-for-4 on its shots.
When Wildcats defender Kirsten Clancy – seeing her first game action of the evening – pulled her attempt wide left, it gave the Panthers their seventh straight victory and set off a wild celebration at midfield.
“I figured it was going to come down to something like this,” said Wilson, who made 11 saves Tuesday. “From the very start, we’ve been practicing PKs for weeks.
“I’ve been looking forward to this moment because I know we’re very capable of scoring on PKs. But I also knew that (Lake Norman) was going to be a very, very hard team to beat.”
The Wildcats (23-2-1) proved so during regulation, battling with the Panthers through two 40-minute regulation halves, two 10-minute overtime halves and two 5-minute “sudden death” overtime periods.
Lake Norman’s defense proved to be as tough as Providence’s, with Wildcats keeper Sam Stoney coming up with 10 saves – five in the second half, five more in the OT periods.
But Stoney couldn’t get a hand on any of the Panthers’ shots in the penalty kick shootout, with Jenn Simons getting the decisive goal by bouncing her shot off the bottom of the crossbar and into the goal.
“We knew this would go a while, so we prepared for PKs,” Providence coach Nathan Williams said. “When we got into the second 5-minute OT, with the golden goal, if we could hang on, we knew we could get it done.”
Also connecting on penalty kick goals for the Panthers wee Mia Thillet, Maddy McGary and Molly McGary.
Providence will face Eastern Regional champion Panther Creek – a 2-1 winner over Wilmington Hoggard on Tuesday – for the N.C. 4A title Saturday at N.C. State’s Dail Soccer Field in Raleigh.