October 19, 2006 at 7:41 a.m.
The Wildcats didn’t feel the cold and wind in their frenzied victory celebration. Sarah Lasiuk’s free kick from 25 yards out in the second overtime went off the leg of a Visitation player and into the net. That goal gave the fifth-seeded Wildcats a 1-0 victory over the fourth-seeded Visitation Blazers in the quarterfinals of the Section 3A playoffs.
Play went back and forth the entire game, though the ninth-ranked Blazers came away with better scoring opportunities. But solid defensive play from Lasiuk and Natasha Lietzau helped keep the Blazers off the scoreboard.
The Blazers’ best scoring opportunity came 50 minutes into the game. They found a crack in the Wildcat defense on the right side of the penalty area and ripped a shot toward the left corner. Wildcat senior goalie Kristy Verhey made a diving save, pushing the ball wide to keep the score knotted at 0-0.
The Blazers nearly scored with just 1:20 left in regulation. They took a wide open shot from the tip of the Wildcat penalty area. The ball beat Verhey to the left, but smacked off the left goalpost and back into play to keep the Wildcats’ chances alive.
After a scoreless first overtime, the Wildcats came up with the winning play just a minute into the second overtime. A Wildcat player was fouled on the right side of the field about 25 yards from the net. On the free kick, Lasiuk ripped a hard shot around the Blazer wall and toward the left post. The ball may have hit more than one player, but it quickly went in off the leg of one of the Blazers and set off the Wildcats’ wild celebration.
The Blazers finished the regular season 12-5-0 and their coaching staff apparently thought they would easily beat the Wildcats. According to a story circulating among Wildcat fans during the game, the Blazers’ head coach was overheard asking the Mahtomedi coach for directions to Mahtomedi as the coaches mingled at the end of the section seeding meeting, four days before the Wildcats and Blazers were scheduled to play.
The Wildcats (6-10-2) were scheduled to take on number one-ranked and top-seeded Mahtomedi (18-0-1) in the Section 3A semifinals Tuesday, October 17 at Mahtomedi. The winner of that game will play today, Thursday, October 19, against the winner of Tuesday’s game between second-seeded Simley and third-seeded Mounds Park Academy.