HIGHLAND | There's a soccer adage says that defense wins championships.
In Saturday's Highland Regional, the defenders of both Crown Point and Valparaiso knotted the game at 0-0 through regulation and the overtime periods.
In the end, the Bulldogs won on penalty kicks to advance to the Fort Wayne Snider Semistate.
"You don't want to lose that way, but, hey, we won," Crown Point coach Chris Mikrut said. "Emotionally, our girls are high. We're feeling good right now."
After no goals were scored in regulation and two seven-minute overtime periods, the rounds of penalty kicks began badly for the Bulldogs. Sarah Rivich, the team's best shooter, had her shot stopped by Vikings keeper Emma Kurt.
Valpo's Kate Johnson banged her shot off the cross bar. Amy Adams then found the net for Crown Point and Karen Larsen matched her for the Vikings. Bulldogs freshman Lauren O'Keefe hit, before Andrea Violanti's shot sailed over the goal. Abi Small scored for C.P. and when goalie Kelsey Shoemaker blocked Kaylee Pullins' attempt, the celebration began.
"Kids stepped up and picked Sarah up," Mikrut said, "and Kelsey Shoemaker, what can you say about the kid? She's a wall."
Both teams came close to scoring in regulation. Valpo's best chance came in the 22nd minute when Kate Johnson found some space inside the box, but C.P. defender Jenna Arnold made a perfect slide tackle to prevent the shot.
"It comes down to a coin toss at the end and they got it. You've got to give them credit, because they finished the job," Valparaiso coach Rob Cespedes said. "We both had our opportunities. We just had difficult getting that touch and finding that completion."
Arnold made several key plays in the match to lead the shutout performance by the Crown Point back third.
"(Arnold's) a sophomore and the only reason we can move Sarah Rivich up is because Jenna Arnold is there," Mikrut said. "We felt like if we could score two goals, we would win because we had Jenna and our defense."
At 34:22, Rivich had a free kick from just outside the box, but the midfielder elevated the ball just a bit too much and it sailed over the cross bar.
Crown Point advances will play South Bend St. Joseph's game, which beat the Bulldogs 2-1 during the regular season.
The Crown Point boys soccer team was in attendance after winning a regional title of its own earlier in the day.
"It's a special day for the school," Mikrut said.