E.A. Sports Today

Donoho drops ‘heartbreaker’

[corner-ad id=1]Falcons’ best season in program history ends in shootout loss to deny playoff berth

Donoho's Sonny Jenkins (15) tries to get around a Westbrook Christian defender during their match Thursday. On the cover, players from both teams get instructions from the officials before playing overtime.

Donoho’s Sonny Jenkins (15) tries to get around a Westbrook Christian defender during their match Thursday. On the cover, players from both teams get instructions from the officials before playing overtime.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Donoho’s chances of making the state girls soccer playoffs came down to the last game of the year. And the last game of the year came down to the final shot of the season.

The Falcons absolutely had to win Thursday night in order to make the playoffs, but fell 1-0 in a shootout when Westbrook Christian freshman keeper Matti Loyd blocked Maryam Salame’s penalty kick on the final attempt of the tiebreaker.

Seventh-ranked Westbrook (10-1-2) won the shootout 2-1, scoring twice after Donoho’s Sonny Jenkins scored on the first shot. The loss allowed Glencoe to gain the playoff spot that was up for grabs

“Heartbreaker,” Donoho coach Jay Jenkins said. “They did so well. And I’m not disappointed. I’m not angry that we lost. I’m not frustrated that we lost.

“When we went to these girls’ house, on a field that was in worse condition than this, we got beat 5-0 and were never in the game. To hold them at bay like that was just an exceptional defensive effort. It was a team that wasn’t going to quit, was not going to be outdone. We will rise again.”

The intense game culminated an emotional week for many of the Falcons. Several players were close friends with Keaten Beam, the White Plains golfer who was killed in a car crash Sunday morning. In fact, four Donoho starters were excused from Tuesday’s match to attend the visitation and the Westbrook game was moved to accommodate the funeral.

Falcons keeper Peyton Suco was one of Beam’s best friends, painted her initials on her wrist for the game and used her memory for strength during the most difficult portions of the match.

Warriors coach Joel Hawbaker thought the Falcons “played great” and said Suco’s presence was the difference between the two meetings; she didn’t play in the first game.

“With all that these girls have been through this week, I am absolutely amazed at their ability to compartmentalize that and put together … their best game,” Jenkins said. “They knew what was at stake and they came out wanting it.

“We hadn’t practiced all week with everything going on. I didn’t know what to expect. I said it before: These girls amaze me. They don’t have any quit in them.”

Jenkins said he knew the only way his team was going to win Thursday was if it were 1-0 and the Falcons (8-3) nearly got the goal they needed in the first minute of the match.

Sonny Jenkins had a free kick 30 seconds into the match. Loyd was able to get the heel of her hand on the ball and directed it off the crossbar and out of play. The Falcons had a few good chances after that, as they were content to take a more defensive stance against the area champions during the game.

“Two of my goals from that specific shot have gone in,” she said. “I thought I had it. I overshot it and it hit the (crossbar). After that I kind of thought there goes our chance of scoring because I knew Westbrook is a very good skilled team, but we ended up going into a shootout.”

Jenkins found the back of the net leading off the shootout, blasting her shot into the upper left corner. Loyd then stopped Constance Hodges, Lili Kaplan shot wide right and Loyd stopped Lily Wiedmer and then Salame.

“It was really nerve-wracking,” Salame said of the shootout. “I kind of wish I didn’t (hit her shot) that way.”

Westbrook’s Alexis Beard hit the left post with her team’s first shot. Kylee Berndt tied the shootout when she stuck a shot inside the left post for the Warriors’ first goal. Suco got her hands on third shooter Makenna Beard’s shot, but the momentum carried it into the goal for their second score. Suco then stopped Mary Grace Mayfield’s shot, but the Warriors didn’t have to shoot after Salame was denied.

“I was really nervous when I went into the shootout … but I can tell you who I played for — Keaten Beam,” Suco said. “I came out here and I told Jay I didn’t know how I was going to play. I hadn’t stepped foot on the soccer field since last Thursday. I tried to stay strong through this.”

Westbrook Christian 1, Donoho 0

Westbrook 0 0 0 0 (2) — 1
Donoho 0 0 0 0 (1) — 0

SHOOTOUT GOALS: WC-Kylee Berndt, Makenna Beard; D-Sonny Jenkins.

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