Winfield's Mackenzie Arthur (right) is congratulated by teammates (from left) Josee Erlandson, Braiden Maddox, Micharae Thompson, Mary Lawman and Jayne Lawman after scoring the winning goal against Hurricane Saturday in the MSAC championship game.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Winfield's Mackenzie Arthur was hoping for a chance to make a difference Saturday morning. When the opportunity presented itself the co-captain didn't let her teammates down.Arthur booted home the deciding goal in the second round of the penalty-kick shootout to send the top-ranked and defending state champion Generals to a 2-1 victory over Hurricane in the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship game.A vocal crowd of about 400 attended the Putnam County rivalry and matchup of top-5 Class AAA state-ranked teams at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium in Coonskin Park. Winfield won at Hurricane 3-1 in late September after falling behind 1-0.Hurricane sophomore Anna Dyer scored a goal to the left of Winfield keeper Haley Evans to give the No. 3 Redskins a 4-3 edge in the second round of penalty kicks. Generals co-captain Braiden Maddox, though, knotted it at 4-all with a shot into the upper right corner of the net.After Redskins sophomore Josie Kroeger sent her shot over the goal, Winfield's Arthur, the eighth player to shoot, stepped up and delivered the winner just under the cross bar and over Hurricane junior goalie Hannah Thompson for the victory. Arthur sprinted toward her teammates at midfield, but they met her halfway and engulfed her in jubilation."Just thinking that I had to do it for my team,'' said Arthur. "It felt really great. I'm really proud of my team. We just fought the entire game.''Ties aren't broken during the regular season, but the MSAC needed to crown a champion. The conference used the postseason format for breaking ties, playing two 10-minute overtime periods in which the first goal wins before proceeding to the shootout, where each team sends four players to the 8-yard mark to take alternating shots. Hurricane (14-1-2) and Winfield (17-1-1) will both be credited with a tie on their regular-season record."What a great honor and prize to take away,'' said Winfield coach Marshall Hoff, whose team became an MSAC member just two seasons ago. "It's always good these opportunities come about."It's just been a couple of seasons ago [a shootout] decided the state championship. You look toward that being a good learning curve. Just the intensity of that kind of a game brings that level."
The first round of penalty kicks ended in a 2-2 tie. The teams were scoreless during regulation until Abby Watson put Hurricane in front on an unassisted goal with 7:28 left in the game for a 1-0 lead.The junior dribbled about 40 yards, outracing the Winfield defenders into the penalty box, then used a slight change of direction before depositing the ball over the right shoulder of Evans, who finished with one save in regulation.The Generals answered less than a minute later on freshman Mary Lawman's unassisted goal to tie it up at 1-1 with 6:20 left. Jordan Pauley's corner kick went through Thompson's hands and Lawman was there to knock the ball into the net with her chest and shoulders. The teams were scoreless the rest of the way until the shootout. Thompson turned in seven saves in the 100 minutes of regulation."I knew we had something to fix after the first game,'' said Hurricane coach Shelly Young, whose squad's only loss has been to Winfield."It's been constant conversations and constant work in practice and the girls definitely fixed the things they needed to fix. They played much better than they did in the first match. This is a great practice to figure out what we're going to do at sectionals.''Winfield bounced back nicely after losing its first game last weekend, a 1-0 setback at No. 2 Morgantown. There is also a good chance in two weeks that the Generals and Redskins will meet up again in the sectional championship game, with the winner advancing to regionals.
"We're really happy and exited to see what's going to happen the rest of the season,'' Arthur said."Now we just need to focus on the next few games and what we have ahead of us. We think we're in a good position. We need to keep our heads on because it can be taken away at any time.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.