WINNETKA – Richmond-Burton goalkeeper Lindsy Restis and the Rockets fell victim to the highs and lows and thin margins of the penalty shootout in Wednesday’s Class 1A North Shore Country Day Sectional semifinal at Skokie Playfields.
After 100 deadlocked minutes against top-seeded Willows Academy, Restis made two game-saving stops to keep the Rockets alive in the decisive penalty shootout, but the seventh round of the shootout, however, broke Willows’ way.
“Really I was just focusing on practice and what coach was telling me about where to look and how to read them and everything,” Restis said. “I was just like, ‘You’ve got to dive, you’ve got to do something, you can’t just stand there.’ It’s tough but you just have to dig, and that’s what we did.”
With the Rockets shooting second, Restis made three saves total, her two biggest stops coming in the fifth and sixth rounds, after misses by her teammates, when a Willows goal would have ended the match.
Restis stopped both.
“Everytime she was asked to step up, she did,” Rockets coach Casey DeCaluwe said.
For the shootout’s seventh round, she stepped up to take a penalty of her own but sent it off target. On the next kick, Willows’ Caroline Kenny sent a high shot over Restis into the net for the winning goal.
With that, Willows Academy beat Richmond-Burton, 1-1 (4-3 in penalty kicks), to advance to Friday’s sectional final against Johnsburg.
Camryn Davis, Taylor Webb and Sarah Kitterman made penalties for the Rockets, while Gabriella Ross, Breanne Retherford, Charlotte Holas and Restis missed.
The Rockets finish the season with a 12-8-1 record, but it was an emotional ending for a group of 11 seniors that, as DeCaluwe tried to remind them afterward, had seen some of the program’s highest achievements, including three consecutive regional titles.
“It’s a really big step for our program,” Ross said. “We’ve made it this far three years in a row now, so we just want to leave a legacy for the rest of our program as the years go on and give the underclassmen something to look up to, goals to achieve.”
Willows opened the scoring late in the first half. In the final two minutes of the half, Kathryn Stangel took a low shot from the right side and with Restis’ view screened until late, it sneaked in at the near post.
The Rockets managed to regroup quickly as the second half began, tying the score just five minutes after the break.
Willows wasn’t able to clear the ball out of the box after a Rockets’ corner kick, and Davis ended up finishing off the chance to make it 1-1.
“We came out strong and really took it to them,” Kitterman said.
The Rockets, however, couldn’t use the wind at their backs to find another goal over the remainder of regulation or two periods of overtime before heading to the decisive penalties.
“Our halftime, and pregame, speech was definitely let’s try to go into the wind, we get out of the half at 0-0 or 1-0, we felt confident we could finish with the wind,” DeCaluwe said. “We did (score) early, and then it was like the legs just got out from underneath us because we worked so hard in that first half playing into that wind.
“Credit to Willows, they kept pushing. It seemed like when they got opportunities we’d take care of it at the back. Once we got forward again our legs were just gone.”
Richmond-Burton, Sr., F
Davis scored the goal that got Richmond-Burton back even early in the second half, eventually sending the game to overtime and penalties.
3: Consecutive sectional appearances for Richmond-Burton.
AND ANOTHER THING...
The windy conditions definitely played a part in the match and at one point the referee even had to stop the clock to move one goal back into place and secure it after gusts had pushed it back off its line.