FRANKFORT— St. Henry made the most of its first trip to the All "A" State Soccer Cup.
After falling behind twice to No. 16 Lexington Christian in the girls' championship game, the No. 17 Crusaders evened it up twice and then won it all in a shootout 3-2 at Sowers Field Sunday afternoon.
Senior goalkeeper Kayla Ziegler blocked three Christian penalty kicks, including the final two to clinch the win for the Crusaders, making them the fifth straight team from Northern Kentucky to win the girls' title.
"I don't know what to say," Ziegler kept saying afterward. "This is our first year down here, and to win it all is just awesome."
Ziegler said the penalty kicks made her nervous, but she refused to panic.
"I kept calm because I knew if I panicked, it was over," she said. "If you panic, you're not in the game anymore."
But when she got her outstretched arms around the final kick by Alison Braun, she let her emotions run free.
"Oh my God, it was awesome," she said. "Awesome."
Ziegler was awesome, Coach Steve Lorenz said.
"She's a very good keeper, and sometimes she gets left out to dry, and sometimes she saves our bacon," he said. "She definitely saved our bacon tonight."
Sarah Wheeler, a sophomore junior varsity player, kicked the game-winning PK for St. Henry. She hadn't played the entire game and Lorenz opted to put her in because he said his other scorers were "gassed."
He couldn't watch as she sealed the win.
"She was terrified and in tears beforehand, but I told her I wouldn't have picked her if I didn't think she could do it," he said.
Lexington Christian got on the board less than four minutes into the game on a Kelsey Ach rocket from the right side into the opposite side of the goal.
Four minutes later, sophomore Taylor Gamm slid past the defense and put her shot past Christian keeper Myranda Powers to tie it up.
Midway through the first half, Lauren Taylor put LCA up again, taking a feed from Maddie Boone on the right side and heading it in.
But again two minutes later, the Crusaders had an answer as Abby Janszen drew out Powers and slammed it into the goal.
"Everyone says the first five minutes after a goal is scored is critical, and we just didn't pressure up on it," LCA Coach James Jaeger said.
But other than that, Jaeger couldn't say enough about his team's effort.
"The girls never quit," he said. "They worked hard, played very well. ... It stings to come here twice and to take runner-up twice, but they're ready to just come back and focus on the next game."
St. Henry 3, Lexington Christian 2 (SO)
Goals—SH: Taylor Gamm, Abby Janszen; LCA: Kelsey Ach, Lauren Taylor. Goalkeepers—SH: Kayla Ziegler; LCA: Myranda Powers.
Shootout—SH: Janszen (wide right); Gamm (made); Abby Felthaus (wide); Kelsey O'Daniel (made); Sarah Wheeler (made); LCA: Maddie Boone (made); Liz Yoder (blocked); Alex Dunnigan (made); Lauren Potter (blocked); Alison Braun (blocked).
Records — St. Henry 10-2-1, Lexington Christian 8-3-2.