MUNSTER — The emotion, drama, tears and cheers all erupted late on Thursday night.
The Crown Point Bulldogs players rushed into the arms of goaltender Grace Lynch after she was a wall in the 3-1 win over Lake Central in one Class 3A Munster Sectional semifinal. The 'Dogs will play Munster, 11-1 winners over Lowell, in the sectional final on Saturday.
The Indians had penalty kicks at 11:46 and 10:09 and Lynch got a hand on both balls to keep L.C. (13-4-1) out of the net.
"There was a lot of stress," Lynch said. "I did what my team needed me to do."
With 1:54 left in the 1-1 tie, C.P.'s Haneen Abdulla knocked in a rebound for a goal to give her team the win. Bridget Rayonec added a goal with 23.7 left, but the game was decided with Lynch going 1-on-1 on the PK.
"Man, Grace was amazing," L.C. coach Shawn Thomas said. "Both PKs were good kicks and she made great plays on them. I'm so proud of the way my girls played."
The score was 1-1 at the half, as Crown Point's speed kept the ball in its offensive end of the field.
Emily Bogordos caught a crossing pass from Emmie McConnell at 22:57 to give the Bulldogs the 1-0 lead. Paytn Grady had a breakaway with 26 minutes left in the first half and was stuffed on a great save by L.C.'s Madaleine Radowski.
With 1:20 left, Bulldog Olivia Small hit the top bar on the goal on a free kick.
Lake Central's Sydney Gragos tapped in a goal on a pass by Adrianna Naumoski with 12:41 left in the first half. L.C.'s Annmarie Hemmerling had a breakaway, but Lynch made one of her remarkable stops.
"We haven't played a game like this in this kind of setting," Crown Point coach Chris Mikrut said. "Two hand balls, which is something you don't always see, gave them PKs. Grace was just great tonight.
"Our defense did a really good job tonight."
The host Mustangs had to wait 45 minutes for Lowell to arrive in the opener. The Red Devils were late due to a busing issue.
Coach Val Pflum sent her Mustangs back to the locker room to get off the field and refocus. Senior Olivia Foley said that's exactly what her team needed.
"I think the delay helped us," Foley said. "We hung out in the locker room. We got excited. We got ready to go."
Munster pounded the Red Devils 11-1 and have outscored their two sectional opponents, including E.C. Central, 19-1 heading to Saturday night's championship.
Foley recorded her third hat trick of the season on the field that was slanted toward the hosts all night.
"We moved the ball quick, with high pressure," Foley said. "We wanted to start strong. The deeper we get into the tournament we can't lay back and wait for the second half to get started."
Munster (12-3-2) also got two goals and two assists from Adeline Andello. Anastasia Cipowski-Smith added two goals, too. Kayla Ziel had a goal and two assists, and Jaycee Helmer added two helpers.
The 'Stangs also got goals from Kendal Ziel, Alania Lany and Emma Higgason. Goalkeeper Grace Helmer had two saves on an easy night.
The Red Devils (6-8-1) got a second-half goal from Savannah Bevineau-Rock, assisted by Aubrey Banek. Lowell goalie Emily Garcia made 13 saves in a game in which she was peppered all night.
"We had a really bad practice (on Wednesday)," Pflum said. "I was concerned. The girls were really fired up. With our boys losing it pulled on our heartstrings. The girls want to win for them."