Lynden Christian against Cedar Park Christian is quickly becoming a rivalry in high school girls’ soccer.
For the second straight year, a Class 1A playoff contest between the two has gone to a shootout. Last year, it ended with the Lyncs on the losing end of the 1A tri-district tournament game.
This season, the Lyncs got redemption, topping Cedar Park in an 18-kick shootout 6-5 after overtime ended 1-1 in the first round of the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament on Monday, Oct. 27, at Bender Fields.
“Déjà vu,” LC coach Brent De Ruyter said. “To come out here and get this result is huge for these kids. It meant a lot to them.”
It almost wasn’t to be for the Lyncs, though.
After six kicks for each side, the referee blew the whistle, signaling the game over with the victor being Cedar Park.
His count was wrong, however, and the match was still tied, each team having made four penalty shots.
“It was so nerve wracking,” LC goalkeeper Kaitlyn Heeringa said. “I was in there and was like ‘This is the one, this is the one.’ Then it went in, and I was like ‘The next one, the next one.’ When he called it, I was like ‘Oh no.’”
After some deliberation, the referee reversed the decision and the match on again — the sky now near black as daylight had been gone since the beginning of overtime.
And in the night, Lynden Christian’s first shot after the reversal was blocked. Cedar Park only had to make its shot and it was all over.
Heeringa, who hadn’t played in all of regulation but replaced starting goalie Daphnee Manderson in overtime, wasn’t having it.
She made the save to extend the match, and two Cedar Park shots later, Heeringa made another save to give the Lyncs the win, as the LC bench cleared to congratulate the keeper.
“At first I was like ‘Wait are we done?’” Heeringa said. “Then everyone started cheering and I was like, ‘We’re done; we’re done.’”
De Ruter’s decision to go with the sophomore Heeringa over the senior Manderson, who had made nine saves in the contest, was easier than one might think.
“(Heeringa) has done a great job in training stopping balls in the shootout, and Daphnee knew that, and she accepted that,” De Ruyter said.
In regulation, action was much of the same back-and-forth that was present in the shootout.
Lynden Christian dominated play early, taking six shots in the first half compared to Cedar Park’s one.
But when Cedar Park’s Alex Gudmundsson somehow found the net off a 25-yard shot that lofted over Manderson, it looked like Lynden Christian’s hopes of advancing were done.
The Lyncs had struggled to find the net to that point, something fairly common for the team this season — at one point the Lyncs had only two goals in six games, including a streak of four consecutive shutouts.
Missed opportunity after missed opportunity went by. Haley Hollander’s shot went high, Shaye Brandsma’s shot hit the cross bar, Sara Dougan’s corner kick found its way to the mouth of the goal, sat on the end line and got cleared.
“We had great chances,” De Ruyter said. “Their keeper did a great job of keeping them in the match.”
The Lyncs compiled 14 shots on frame, and all but one of them stayed out.
When Hollander got the ball 30 yards out in the 64th minute, anyone might have figured she would do what she had done all game — find the wing and make a run in the box.
Instead, she chose to take a shot, and it skipped into the side of the net past the outstretched arms of Cedar Park goalie Kristen Barclay to even the score 1-1.
“Haley’s ability to create space and create opportunities for herself was huge for us,” De Ruyter said. “We were able to get balls to the flank because they sucked in on her. She did a nice job distributing it wide and getting it back.”
LC moves on to face King’s in the district semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at King’s High School. With the perseverance the Lyncs displayed Monday night, De Ruyter is plenty confident in his squad.
“This game says a lot about who we are,” De Ruyter said. “They’ve been up and down this year and to see them be resilient in the first round of a playoff game with our lack of experience is huge.”