CORAL SPRINGS, FL - Coral Springs Charter School’s magic carpet ride to a state championship came up one penalty kick short on Tuesday night in Orlando.
Lake Highland Prep (11-5), the top-seeded team in the region, escaped with a hard-fought, 2-1 (5-4 PKs) win over Coral Springs Charter (17-4-1), which was making their first regional appearance since 2003.
“We have a lot of very young players, half the team is sophomores,” said Panthers coach Kristen Grassi. “We had mostly ninth and tenth graders last year and they were more experienced this year. The quality of the team is very technical and a lot of them play club soccer…even my bench players were good.”
Sophomore Emily Kahler scored her 14th goal of the season to take the Panthers to an early 1-0 lead before Lake Highlands Prep was able to tie and forced 20 minutes of scoreless overtime.
Kahler, Erin Dunne, Madison Micioni, and Sabrina Basso all converted their penalty kicks in the loss. Lake Highland Prep scored on five penalty kicks for the difference following the 100-minute affair, including regulation and two overtime periods.
“Winning or losing in (penalty kicks), it just sucks,” Grassi said. “It is a whole lot of luck. What it does prove is that you were in it to win it. The team (Lake Highland Prep) we played last night. I know all about that squad. They were number one in the region. It was a knockdown, drag-out battle and the girls proved they belonged.”