Jessie Kunz-Pfeiffer rode a wave of emotions on Wednesday night.
Excitement turned to frustration and panic – and just like the end result for the Central Valley Bears, her feelings came full circle.
Kunz-Pfeiffer stopped Mead’s Kathryn Imming’s shot and the Bears picked up a thrilling 3-2 shootout victory over the Panthers at Joe Albi Stadium in the opening round of the State 4A girls soccer playoffs.
The Bears advance to play Tahoma, which defeated Gonzaga Prep in a shootout on Wednesday night.
“We went through districts with two tough losses and to pull out of it and win our regional game and then the first game of state really means a lot,” Kunz-Pfeiffer said of her Bears, who finished the regular season as the Greater Spokane League champions. “We’re back on track and we’re going to keep pushing.”
With time winding down in the second half, it looked as if CV had the regulation victory locked down – but Mead wasn’t going down without a fight.
With 2 minutes remaining in regulation, Kunz-Pfeiffer stopped an initial shot from Mead sophomore Anna Kessler. The ball bounced out of her hands, and Kessler followed the shot in and buried it in the left corner to tie the game.
“I was mad – I felt like I had it,” Kunz-Pfeiffer said. “It was good on her part to follow it. I was really frustrated and a little panicked, but I had to put it out of my head.”
After both teams failed to break the tie in overtime, they squared off in a shootout that went seven players deep. Central Valley caught the final break when Paige Gallaway scored, and Kunz-Pfeiffer put the finishing touches on the game by stopping Imming’s attempt.
“I’m a little bit speechless right now,” CV coach Andres Monrroy said. “I want to give Mead credit – they never gave up. I really thought we were going to win it in regulation and they came back and really fought us for that game. … I just feel like it was an even match. One team didn’t dominate the other – it was 50-50 – and when it comes to a shootout, it’s sad that it has to be decided like that, but it was an appropriate ending to a game like this.”
Mead’s Kylie Drynan scored the only goal of the first half, giving the Panthers the early advantage.
Natalie Middleton tied the game early in the second half when her corner kick curved in and sailed over Mead keeper Taylor Gail’s hands. The Bears took the lead in the 66th minute when Kasey Ames buried the rebound of her own shot. Kessler tied the game at 78 minutes.
“It’s a tough way to lose for either team in that circumstance, but I’m proud of the girls – they didn’t quit,” Mead coach Steve Snider said. “We have been such a dramatically different team the last part of the season – they’ve been fighting so hard.”
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