Hammond survives, ousts Atholton in penalty kicks

Bears take 2-1 victory, advance in West Region

Girls soccer

High Schools

October 31, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

For several tense moments yesterday, Hammond's dream season hung by a thread so thin, the question wasn't whether it would break, but when.

Yet when the dust settled, the answer, thanks to Hammond goalkeeper Tara Zammichieli, was plenty clear: Not on this day.

Hammond defeated Atholton, 2-1, in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A West Region girls soccer playoffs, and did it thanks to Zammichieli, who made perhaps the biggest save of her career, denying Raiders forward Christen Pena-Ariet on the second-to-last kick with the shootout tied 3-3.

Seconds later, Ashley Pietryka calmly stepped up and drilled the game-winner past Raiders goalkeeper E.J. Goldman.

"It feels amazing. I'm still surprised I stopped it," Zammichieli said. "In penalty kicks, a lot of it is just luck. You have to guess one way or another and I guessed right and got the ball."

Said Hammond coach Pete DiMarco: "She absolutely won the game for us. That's why we have so much faith in her, and that's why Tara is the best keeper in the county. She makes those kinds of big plays."

That the game even made it to penalty kicks was somewhat of a surprise considering No. 5 Hammond (14-1-1) came in heavily favored over Atholton (7-5-3). If fact, the Bears dominated the first half, outshooting and outhustling the Raiders, taking a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute on a goal by Melissa Workman.

Something changed at intermission, however, as Atholton took control of the action and didn't let go, pressuring the ball and forcing turnovers. Even when Goldman went down temporarily with a shoulder injury, it only seemed to inspire the Raiders more, as backup Meghan Murphy came in a played well, making five big saves.

Atholton rode the emotional wave to near perfection, getting a fastbreak goal in the 47th minute by sophomore Tessa Laidig, thanks to two good passes in front of the net by Pena-Ariet and Jessica Bejm.

"We wanted it really bad," Laidig said. "We've come so far this season, we kind of saw everything come together today."

Atholton had Hammond on its heels for the rest of the game and two overtimes, but couldn't crack the defense of Pietryka, Workman and Zammichieli.

As the game went to penalty kicks, both teams prepared for anything.

"We figured in a shootout, it basically comes down to luck and who handles the pressure better," Laidig said. "It's the worst way to lose, but it's the best way to win."

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