Jenkins Back in State Championship Game With PK Win Over Fleming Island
Sat. February 02, 2013 at 2:00 a.m. | By Mike Cobb
George Jenkins goalkeeper Haleigh Mercer stops the first of two penalty kicks she blocked against Fleming Island during a FHSAA Class 4A state semifinal game at George Jenkins High School on Friday night. (Photo by MICHAEL WILSON | THE LEDGER)
By MIKE COBB
LAKELAND | After 100 minutes of soccer between two evenly matched teams failed to produce a goal, it came down to penalty kicks for a trip to the Class 4A girls soccer state championship game Friday night at George Jenkins High School.
And that's when two freshmen stepped up for George Jenkins.
Freshman goalkeeper Haleigh Mercer made two saves, and freshman defender Katherine Stokes, on the fifth penalty kick for the Eagles, drilled a shot into the lower right corner of the net to give Jenkins the win over Orange Park Fleming Island.
The Jenkins Eagles (23-2-1) outscored the Fleming Island Golden Eagles, 4-3, in PKs to earn their second consecutive trip to the Class 4A state championship game.
Jenkins will face Melbourne on Feb. 9 in the state title game.
Last year, George Jenkins lost to Ida Baker 1-0 in the final.
In the PKs, with Fleming Island shooting first, Fleming Island's Janese Quick and Jenkins' Lauren Greene both scored to leave it a 1-1 tie.
Mercer then made saves on Fleming Island's next two shots to leaving Jenkins with a 2-1 edge after three rounds.
"That's the first time I've ever done it (defended penalty kicks) in a real game," Mercer said. "I was so nervous."
It hardly showed.
"I told her, ‘You make one save we'll win the game, and if you make two, we'll definitely win it.' She did just that," Kazbour said.
Fleming Island goalkeeper Katie Nimitz came up with one save to keep the Golden Eagles alive.
However, tied 3-3 going into Jenkins' fifth and final kick, Stokes calmly put her shot in the bottom right corner of the net for the win.
"She loves (penalty kicks)," Kazbour said. "She wants to always take them. She asked to be No. 5 (on PKs), and she put it the back the net."
"It's probably the best feeling I've ever had," Stokes said. "I love the pressure. It's when I play best."
Jenkins and Fleming Island played the 80 minutes of regulation as well as two 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods with no score.
"Fleming Island plays more of a defensive style," Kazbour said. "We got in a couple of times but couldn't find the goal. Fleming Island had their chances also."
Not counting the PK goals Friday night, Fleming Island (22-1-2) gave up just one goal all season.
"I felt they won the first half and we won the second half in (scoring) opportunities," Fleming Island coach Darrell Ivey said, "It was a fair match across the board. It was a great game."
"Both teams played their hearts out."
Or as Kazbour put it, "It was a fantastic game, a great effort by both teams. It's unfortunate it has to come down to PKs, but you have to have a winner and a loser."