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Mequon Loses Final in Shootout to Cleveland Internationals

posted Dec 12, 2012, 3:41 AM by John DeFord   [ updated Dec 12, 2012, 3:43 AM ]
BRADENTON, Fla. – Mequon United could not reproduce the shootout magic that got them through the semifinals in the championship match against the Cleveland Internationals on Tuesday in the 5-3 loss at the 2012 Super Y-
League North American Finals at IMG Academy.

The two Midwest Division rivals traded chances in the second minute of the final. Cleveland’s Grace Bahr got to a ball that beat a Mequon defender, faked a shot at the top of the box, and sent a shot into the awaiting grasp of
Kelli Ausman.

Mequon’s Courtney Wiencek then gained possession at midfield from Ausman’s punt and raced through five Cleveland defenders. She made it to the penalty area before her shot was saved by Gabrielle Kouzelos, who
mishandled it. Wiencek got to the ball and ran around Kouzelos but slipped before she could attempt to score.

Bahr had another chance in the opening minute of the second half when she went around Ausman, but was beat to the ball by the Mequon defender, whom she fouled.

Wiencek combined with Jieun Heo to set up Gaby Zabala with a shot that missed wide a few minutes later.

Cleveland had a three-on-one opportunity in the 50th minute, but the final pass was played offside, though Cassandra Field did put the ball in the back of the net.

Isabelle Thomsen’s corner kick in the 52nd minute produced the game’s opening goal. Kouzelos misjudged the ball and Wiencek capitalized, giving Mequon the lead.

Cleveland pushed players forward for the remainder of the game, but it was Bahr’s solo work in the last minute that proved vital. With the ball in the box, Bahr was pushed by a defender and still managed to get a shot off, which beat a diving Ausman into the corner of the goal.

The celebrations were short-lived, however, as the Internationals realized that the game was going to extra time. The teams could not be separated after two 10-minute halves, so the championship match went to penalty kicks.

Mequon’s first shot by Thomsen hit the crossbar, giving Cleveland an early advantage after Bahr’s opening kick. In the fourth round, with Mequon down 4-2 and needing a goal to advance to a fifth round, the team’s only goal scorer stepped up to the spot.

Wiencek took her time setting the ball’s position and her own. She went up to the ball slowly and sent a shot way above the crossbar, giving Cleveland the win.

“It’s two very good teams and both battled to the bitter end,” Cleveland head coach Keri Sarver said of the Division rivals. The teams traded wins during the regular season. “There really are no losers in this game, both teams are deserving to be in the final, and both teams played a good, hard-fought game.

“Our club has been here from the beginning and we’re always looking for the best competition we can find, especially in world-class events like [the Super Y-League North American Finals].”

Meqoun’s first loss of the tournament came in a penalty shootout, but it did not make it any easier to take.

“It’s hard to lose the way we lost,” Mequon assistant coach Lito Zabala said. “Especially with 20 seconds to go and being 1-0 up. But being here is great and I think the girls learned something, which is great.”