44TH DISTRICT SOCCER: Lady Eagles win first title in 11 years

Oct. 6—Nathan Hutchinson

The Lady Eagles (9-6-1) put an extra emphasis on penalty kicks during recent practices.

That preparation certainly paid off.

"We knew (a shootout) was going to happen (in the postseason)," Madison Southern coach Katy Cress said. "We've been in this situation so many times."

This time, the Lady Eagles delivered in the most pressure-filled moment.

Claire Cress made a save and Avyn Willis found the net on the final shot as Madison Southern defeated Madison Central (12-3-3), 1-0, in the championship game of the 44th District Tournament on Wednesday in Richmond.

The game was scoreless through regulation and a pair of five-minutesovertimes.

In the shootout, Ashlee Pisula and Mallory Duerson scored for Southern, before Willis sealed the victory.

The win gave the Lady Eagles their first district title since 2011.

"It's been a long time coming," Cress said. "I'm really proud of these girls. They stepped it up and dug deep when I know they were tired and ready to quit. But, they gave it their all for the entire game."

Central had most of the best scoring chances in regulation, forcing Claire Cress to make some solid saves.

In the shootout, the Lady Indians hit a post and sent a shot over the bar. Cress dove to her right to stop an attempt by Maddie Eades, before Adria Anderson kept the shootout going with a goal.

With the title on the line, Willis tuck a shot just inside the right post.

"We've been working on penalty kicks a lot in practice and I just have a spot and I go there every time," Willis said. "So, I was just trying to focus my mind and get the ball into the goal."

Central defeated Southern, 2-1, during the regular season in Berea. It was the 17th-straight game between the long-time rivals to be decided by one goal.

"It's always a good battle with good friends," Cress said of the Southern-Central rivalry. "It's fun to play against them, but it is more fun to win."

Southern and Central will advance to the 11th Region Tournament next week.

Times and match-ups are yet to be determined.