SOUTH BEND — Somebody had to make a play.
Normally in those situations, it’s Morgan Catchur, Aleah Ferngren or Janci Courtaney stepping up for Valparaiso. All three have at least 16 goals.
Saturday, it was sophomore Annabel Murley. She buried a 35-yard shot from the right side in the second half to give the Vikings a 2-1 lead over Penn and that ended up being the final score in the Class 3A South Bend Adams Regional final.
“I just can’t stop smiling right now knowing that we stopped (Penn’s) reign of three years making the (state) finals,” Murley said.
Penn was the state champion each of the last two years.
Murley had three goals on the season coming into the game. Nine of her teammates had more.
“(Murley’s) a really hard worker, just a really hard worker,” Vikings coach Rob Cespedes said. “For somebody to be able to do that and really pull it off is big.”
Murley doubled down on her heroism in the 65th minute, clearing a ball that was bouncing around the box, eventually toward the goal. It would’ve tied the match again.
“That was the scariest moment of my life. It was going in,” she said. “On Friday morning, we practiced being on front or back post, we practiced just that.”
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The Vikings (20-2) were in the attacking third for the bulk of the first half, outshooting the Kingsmen 8-0 in the first 40 minutes. Catchur finally broke through in the 36th minute.
Courtaney put a cross in from the right side. Catchur went airborne to get a foot on the the ball and rocket it into the net.
A handball was called on Valparaiso in the box in the 47th minute. Maya Lacognato took the penalty kick for Penn and scored.
About five minutes later, Murley scored the game winner for the Vikings.
“The first (Penn) goal, I felt like was kind of my fault because I let the defender make the cross that cause the hand ball,” Murley said. “I knew it was kind of on me to take the initiative to get us up and I just had the opportunity.”
Valparaiso will play Homestead next on Oct. 20. The semistate will be at Kokomo or South Bend St. Joseph.
“This one really mattered. This one really counted, going up against a really strong team like (Penn),” Cespedes said. “They’re always such a strong team, a well-matched game, to win it, it really does matter.
“Coming out with a victory in this one is really nice.”