Goalkeepers take center stage as South Fayette tops Franklin Regional in Class 3A shootout

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Thursday, October 28, 2021 | 11:04 PM


South Fayette goalkeeper Kaylee Hendricks met her counterpart, Aris Lamanna of Franklin Regional, face-to-face, eye-to-eye.

And in that moment, all Hendricks could think was, “Make the save and win the game.”

A marathon of two halves, two overtimes and a total of nine shootout goals came down to Lamanna, Franklin Regional’s goalkeeper, standing just a short distance from Hendricks, who was sizing up what would become the final shootout attempt in No. 6 South Fayette’s 2-1 WPIAL Class 3A girls soccer quarterfinals victory over host No. 3 Franklin Regional on Thursday night.

“We talked before it. We introduced ourselves,” Hendricks said. “It was a surprise that she came out to take the shot.”

Lamanna waited, then booted the ball to the side as Hendricks went with it, snatching it before it got past her, sending Lamanna to the ground in disbelief and preserving the 5-4 lead in shootout goals.

“I saw her looking and just the way her hips were faced, I just knew where she was going,” Hendricks said.

The outcome, decided in the sixth round of the shootout, gained South Fayette a measure of revenge for a first-round playoff loss last season to Franklin Regional and a regular-season overtime setback again this year.

South Fayette (13-7) advances to play No. 2 Plum (18-1-1) in the semifinals Tuesday at a time and site to be determined.

Meanwhile, Franklin Regional (14-4-1) was bidding for its first trip to the semifinals. Panthers coach Scott Arnold took time to console his emotional players before emerging with a sheepish smile.

“Strong emotions lead to strong memories,” he said. “The highs and lows, which we’ve had a lot of this year … we won at their place in overtime and we won here against Gateway and that won us the section. So I told them, when they’re older, they’ll have all these memories that they can still talk to each other about.

“This senior class is a big class for us. They’ve been the heart of the team for the last few years. I said they’ll always be a part of us.”

South Fayette scored first in regulation on a goal by Anna Hertzler at 22 minutes, 44 seconds of the first half. Franklin Regional tied it, 1-1, on Morgan Walters’ goal at 25:43 of the second half.

Both teams had ample additional scoring opportunities, a sampling of which were:

• Julianna Rossi’s attempt up close for South Fayette just minutes after Franklin Regional pulled even.

• Paige Postufka’s defense of a shot by Franklin Regional’s Mauriana Dorsch late in the first overtime.

• Hendrick’s point-blank stop of Abby Paterline’s blistering header in the second overtime.

“We’ve been competing with them for the past two years,” South Fayette coach Nick Rosser said of Franklin Regional. “Tight games. Close games. They’ve gotten us twice before this. They’re a good team to play against. We know we have a challenge with them all the time. We know it’s going to be very competitive.”

Hendricks earlier had scored a shootout goal for South Fayette, whose other successful attempts were by Annalisa Mariano, Rachel Black, Natalie Lex and Postufka, who registered the eventual winner.

Franklin Regional’s shootout goals were scored by Paterline, Shaeley Reichbaum, Reilly Weaver and Abby Bogler.

Arnold looked around Panther Stadium, his team’s home, as a group of South Fayette students and fans chanted support for the victorious Lions heading across the turf to meet them.

“Shootouts are a crapshoot,” he said. “You can’t predict what’s going to happen.”

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