Riders in 7th girls soccer title game: CR nips Force 3-2 in D-I semifinal soccer shootout

DOVER — That’s the thing about soccer shootouts.

Once each team gets past their fifth shots, the contests can end in a heartbeat or they can go on seemingly forever.

So when Wilmington Charter standout Sheyenne Allen chipped a shot just to the left of the post, Caesar Rodney High goalie Morgan Desaulniers was as surprised as anyone.

“When I saw it go out, I didn’t really know that it was over until I saw everybody just running on,” said the sophomore. “But I was ecstatic.”

It was a dramatic but exhilarating finish for the second-seeded Riders who found a way to get past the No. 3 Force in a DIAA Division I girls’ soccer state semifinal that will officially be recorded as 3-2 on a rainy Wednesday night.

By twice overcoming one-goal deficits in regulation, CR (15-1-1) earned the program’s seventh appearance in the state finals. The Riders will again try to capture their first state crown against top-seeded Padua probably on Friday evening at a site TBA.

But Wednesday’s victory felt like a big accomplishment in itself. The contest was tied 2-2 after regulation and a pair of 10-minute sudden-death overtimes.

The shootout ended up going 10 rounds before CR prevailed, 6-5, with each team having chances to win. Junior Megan Powers scored the sixth goal for the Riders — her second of the shootout — before Allen’s miss sent CR’s players streaming toward the goal to celebrate with Desaulniers.

Kimberly Glasser, Megan Rigsby, Jessie Prillaman and Macy Ramsey also scored in the shootout.

CR coach Darrell Gravatt’s teams had been 0-6 all-time in shootouts but have now won two in the past three games.

“It’s very nerve-wracking but very exciting at the same time,” Prillaman said about the penalty kicks. “You’re rooting for your teammates, your goalie. After the final goal, it was such an amazing feeling. I would do it all over again, the same way.”

It was Prillaman’s goal with 15:58 left in regulation that tied the contest at 2-2.

The junior ran down a ball just before it crossed the goal line, turned back in on a defender and fired a sharp-angle shot that somehow sailed over the Charter goalie’s head and into the net.

“I thought about passing it but I didn’t see many of my players down the field,” said Prillaman. “I just took a shot and it went in. I was so thankful. I was (surprised) honestly.

“Sometimes the hardest shots go in so you’ve just got to take those chances.”

The Riders beat Charter, 3-0, during the regular season but played from behind in much of Wednesday’s rematch.

“It was frustrating because I thought that we were playing well,” said Gravatt. “But we just tried to keep the faith. We kept saying, you’ve got to dig deep. Charter’s no slouch, we’re going to have to go take it from them. We just tried to stay in the hunt and not fall two behind.”

After giving up a goal late in the first half, the Riders knotted the score at 1-1 with 28:39 remaining in the second half. Freshman Haley Schafer sent in a shot from the left wing that slid underneath the Force keeper on the slippery turf.

But the Force (12-5) got the lead back less than three minutes later when Lizzy Barrish hit a left-footed shot from the left wing that sailed past Desaulniers.

The night got off to a tough start for Desaulniers when she mishandled a long-range Charter shot for the Force’s first goal. But the sophomore stood tall in the end.

In the closing seconds of the second OT, Desaulniers had to go up high to knock away a shot in a crowd of Charter players. The scoring chance came off a rebound following a Force corner kick.

Desaulniers then did her part in the shootout.

“It was a silly mistake,” Desaulniers said about the first goal she allowed. “But everybody makes silly mistakes. You just have to keep pushing through, don’t let it get to you. I definitely feel like it (the victory) is redemption.

“It feels amazing (to be in the state finals),” she said. “I’m just speechless right now.”

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