Wolfpack’s unbeaten run ends

Eighty minutes didn’t create a winner. Ten additional minutes didn’t do it either. That left just one more option.

Todd Beamer High School senior Holland Crook netted the decisive penalty kick as the Titans outscored Jackson 5-4 in a shootout to earn a 1-0 win in the opening round of the Class 4A girls state soccer tournament Nov. 10 at Everett Memorial Stadium.

The loss sends Jackson home, ruining the Timberwolves (17-1-1) undefeated season.

“I think it was a high-intensity game,” Jackson head coach Mike Bartley said. “It was a great game, that’s what its all about. I don’t know if our touch was off, maybe just a little excited.”

Todd Beamer, which also went to a shootout in its seeding game against Stadium, converted all five of its spot kicks. Jackson goalkeeper KC Wilson got her fingertips to two kicks, but it wasn’t enough to stop the shots.

Jackson sophomore Cara Wegner saw her attempt, Jackson’s second shot, curl just wide around the left side of the frame. Wegner grabbed her head as she walked back to her team, but the results weren’t decided until Crook slotted her game-winner past Wilson’s right side.

“I went straight to my goalie (after the winning kick),” said Crook, Todd Beamer’s scoring leader with 14 goals. “She’s the one that’s got to deal with the scary part, blocking them all, so I just ran straight to her.”

Jackson had more clear-cut chances in the game, but couldn’t capitalize as the Titans’ defense stepped up to clear away attacking runs.

An 18th minute cornerkick met the head of a Jackson player, but Todd Beamer goalkeeper Megan Graf’s leg kept the ball out before it was cleared out of a scramble in front of the goal.

Another Jackson opportunity, a shot in the 82nd minute — during the first overtime period — was cleared off the line by a Titans defender and the rebound shot went inches wide for the Timberwolves.

“I thought we played pretty well, we just didn’t finish,” Bartley said. “We let them hang around and we didn’t finish anything and we paid the price.”

Todd Beamer senior defender Jessica Niewoehner was all over Jackson’s attacking players, not allowing many strong through balls to reach the target and shouldering attackers off the ball.

Jackson’s defense was similarly strong, holding the Titans to outside shots and forcing the team off of its pass-oriented, build-up offense.

“She’s got more heart than any kid I’ve ever seen,” Todd Beamer head coach Joel Lindberg said of Niewoehner. “She’s so tough.”

The Titans had a strong build-up in the 29th minute when the team strung together four passes and found Jenna Floyd on the right side, but Floyd’s shot was stopped with a diving save.

“When we get under pressure, that’s (long balls) not our game,” Lindberg said. “So that’s stressful because I know we can play better than that, we’re great on the ground, we’re a great passing team.”

Jackson defenders Simone Sterling, Taylor Hutchens and Molly McPherson helped contain Crook and the Todd Beamer offense, but the Titans experience in penalty kicks prevailed.

“(Jackson) is a good team, I was happy to come out with a win, but obviously the game could have gone either way, they had some good opportunities and we were fortunate,” Crook said. “… It was so nerve wracking (going to penalty kicks for a second straight game), but with that comes confidence, too.”

Mark Nelson writes for The Herald.

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