For Meredith Reinhardt, it was about concentration and eyeing the shooter.
For Taylor Culver, she was so focused, she didn’t realize she was clincher.
“I didn’t know that if I had made it we would win, so I turned around and everyone was running at me, and I was, like, ‘What is going on?'” said Culver, whose penalty kick gave top-seeded Scottsdale Notre Dame a hard-fought Division II girls state soccer title on Saturday over Gilbert Campo Verde, playing on its home field.
After 110 minutes of scoreless play, the two teams lined up for the penalty kick shootout and scored in the first and second rounds.
“It was all guts,” said Notre Dame coach Tom White. “It was what you want a championship match to be – you can’t say enough about both teams, the fight.”
On the third attempt, Campo Verde’s leading goal scorer all year, Jacque Dompier, struck the ball, looking for the left corner, but Notre Dame goalkeeper Reinhardt guessed right and dived to stop the ball.
“It really is a mental thing,” Reinhardt said. “You just have to stay big and keep your team in mind and save the ball. I’ve been trained to look at their eyes and look at where their hips are facing and then react based on that.”
Notre Dame’s Kassidy Madrigal knocked in her shot easily when Campo Verde’s Amanda Canzona guessed wrong in that third round. Then, Reinhardt stopped Kathryn Fox, who tried to go up the middle.
Notre Dame led 3-2 with Campo Verde (17-6-2) having only one shot left. But Culver didn’t realize that when she approached the shot, which she buried in the left corner, just out of Canzona’s reach.
“I didn’t think about it,” said Culver, who led the team in scoring this season with 13 goals. “(I was thinking) just make it or lose.”
It was the second straight penalty-kick shootout for Notre Dame (16-0-6), who needed the extra decider in the semifinals against Tucson Catalina Foothills on Wednesday.
As an 11th seed, Campo Verde seems a year away, having just two seniors on its roster. But it traveled twice to Tucson to beat higher-seeded Southern Arizona teams and then went to penalty kicks to eliminate Buckeye Verrado in the semifinals on Wednesday.
“My girls worked incredibly hard this season,” said Campo Verde coach Rosie Headley. “As the No. 11 seed, I feel that the public didn’t feel that we could do this so we proved a lot making it to the state championship game.”
It was the first title for Notre Dame since 2009, when the late Scott Bemis took the team to the Class 4A-II title, and the parochial school’s first championship match appearance since losing to Flagstaff in the 4A-II title game in 2011.
Both teams lost in the quarterfinals last year while Campo Verde was the Division III title in 2013 while Notre Dame lost in the Division II semifinals that year.
Saturday’s game was a defensive stalemate played mostly in midfield. Neither team had many quality chances. Some the best opportunities came in the extra periods.
In the final minute of the second “golden goal” sudden-death period, Notre Dame’s Amanda Furtmann was about to go one-on-one with Canzona, who tripped her just outside the goal box. Canzona was given a yellow card but Michelle Mahoney’s subsequent free kick was just wide of the goal.
Notre Dame used its ball-control, methodical system all day, to no avail. Mahoney, Furtmann and Culver only got a few good looks at the goal, all turned away. Culver hit the crossbar on one of the few good shots when the pass to her glanced off her shoulder, slowing the ball down enough for her to put a foot on it.
Campo Verde’s Sebrina Rodriguez got off a couple of long free kicks but Reinhardt saved six shots.
Photos: Girls soccer state championships
Highland players douse coach Andy Barber after their 1-0 overtime win against Desert Vista in their Division I girls soccer championship Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 in Gilbert.