Tara Gilpin's goal with less than 24½ minutes left tied the match, just the impetus third-ranked Elizabethtown needed en route to a 3-2 shootout victory over the host team Thursday in the semifinals of the Lady Knights Challenge Cup girls' soccer tournament.
In the opener, No. 6 Sacred Heart edged No. 2 Assumption 2-1.
Saturday's matches begin at 1 p.m., with Manual facing Woodford County for seventh place. Notre Dame and Highlands will vie for fifth place at 3, followed by Assumption and Catholic for third at 5. Sacred Heart will take on E-town for the title at 7.
Elizabethtown 3, Lexington Catholic 2 (SO): "That's a huge win, but what a great game!" E-town Coach Jerry Crabtree said. "Up and down, both teams playing hard. That's an excellent team. We feel very fortunate to be here and to play against a team like that."
The Panthers pounced early, then had to play catch-up.
Morgan Thompson put E-town (11-2) on the board 21 seconds into the match, banking a shot from about 30 yards out off the crossbar and into the goal.
The 22nd-ranked Lady Knights (3-6-2) rallied to lead 2-1 at halftime, though, both goals by Mary Beth Gorham.
On each score, the junior forward — whom Crabtree called "the best player in the state" — practically undressed an E-town defender with her dribbles and fakes.
She tied the match with 24:46 left in the half, shooting from 25 yards out on the left wing to inside the far post.
Eight minutes later, Gorham struck a similar tally, but from about 15 yards out and at a more severe angle.
Gorham nearly made it 3-1 about five minutes into the second half, blasting a shot off the crossbar.
E-town tied when Emily Richardson's through ball left Gilpin with a one-on-one, and she converted from near the top of the penalty box.
Going from regulation to a shootout, the teams were tied 2-2 through three rounds.
In round four, Madison Conway scored for E-town. Catholic goalie Kate Fitzgerald shot wide of the net.
Lexy Hazle then scored for E-town, ending the match with a 4-2 shootout margin.
"They had the best of it in the second half, so it's not an unfair result," Catholic Coach Terry Quigley said. "Elizabethtown played well. We had our moments and we're getting better. This is an improvement, but we've still got a ways to go."
Sacred Heart 2, Assumption 1: The Valkyries led 1-0 on Eleanor Gabriel's goal at the midpoint of the first half.
Assumption (10-3-1) rallied to tie when Christen McAllister headed in a corner kick from Haley Ellis with 17:50 left in the match.
Sacred Heart (6-5-2) took only 19 seconds to answer, with Sara Herbert shooting low into the left corner from near the penalty mark.
"I'm really proud of our girls," said Coach Chris Moore, whose team dropped a 3-2 verdict to the Rockets on Aug. 28. "We've had our ups and downs this year. I feel like we've really come together. A lot of games this season, the final minutes of the game, we've given up a goal and either tied or lost a game to some very good teams. I just felt our composure today was very good."
Elizabethtown 3, Lexington Catholic 2 (SO)
Goals — E: Halle Pinkham, Tara Gilpin; LC: Mary Beth Gorham 2.
Goalkeepers — E: Audrey Duke; LC: Kate Fitzgerald.
Records — Elizabethtown 11-2; Lexington Catholic 3-6-2.
Sacred Heart 2, Assumption 1
Goals — A: Christen McAllister; SH: Eleanor Gabriel, Sara Herbert.
Goalkeepers — A: Katie Jones; SH: Corinne Peabody.
Records — Assumption 10-3-1; Sacred Heart 6-5-2.