HOPKINSVILLE -- A two-goal lead in soccer is never safe. You can use the University Heights Academy Lady Blazers' performance on Monday night as proof of that.
Down 3-1 in the final five minutes of regulation, Grace Pape scored two goals (one penalty kick and one in live action) to push the Lady Blazers to penalty kicks against Murray, where UHA defeated the Lady Tigers (3-3) 3-1 to earn the victory at the All "A" State Sectionals.
Coming back from a two-goal lead is a very attainable feat. But with five minutes left in regulation, that feat seemed very much out of reach.
"I didn't see it coming with five minutes to go," Lady Blazers' head coach Michael Parker said. "2-0 down at halftime, I thought we had enough chances that if we could get one early, we could turn it around. We got that goal in the first minute of the second half and at that point I thought we had a great chance. ... With five minutes to play, I certainly didn't think we were going to score twice."
But it was the senior Pape who drew the foul with four minutes remaining, drove home the penalty kick and moments later put an equalizer past Murray keeper Angela Gierhart as the clock was winding down.
Parker said after Pape scored on the penalty, he knew his team would get more chances, but it took one right near the final whistle to get it done.
"At that point, now it's 3-2 with two minutes to play and there's going to be more chances," he said. "They're going to play to just waste time and at the end of the day, they're going to try and score -- they're not going to leave themselves open. So I knew there would be another chance or two. But you're still not thinking you're going to get one right at the death -- it was fantastic."
From that point, the Lady Blazers had the momentum heading into sudden death penalty kicks.
"Whenever you're 3-1 up and lose two goals with five minutes to go they had to be feeling down," Parker added. "When Lainey (Burman) saved the first one, then the pressure was on. When she saved the second one, I knew we had some breathing room. Anytime you win or lose on penalties it's obviously stressful. ... When Lainey made that first save, the stress kind of faded away."
For Burman, the senior goalkeeper, she was right where she wanted to be.
"I feel like I'm more comfortable than in a normal game," Burman said. "There are no distractions, I'm not having to talk to our defense. ... It's just me and one other person and it's a controlled situation."
Burman confidently read the kicker and made the first two saves of penalties to give her teammates a little breathing room.
From there, it was Pape, Parker and Piper Hancock that finished the job, pushing the Lady Blazers over Murray for the first time to the tourney since 2014.
UHA 3, Murray 3
(UHA wins 3-1 in PKs)
MHS: 2 1 -- 3
UHA: 0 3 -- 3
MHS PK: XXOX-
UIHA PK: OOXO-
UHA: Pape (2 goals), Parker (1 goal)
MHS: Wray (1 goal), Bourque (1 goal), Jones (1 goal)