The Bulldogs advanced to their seventh regional in 11 years.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
STRUTHERS -- An act of nature wasn't enough to deny Ashley Luthern, so what chance did her opponents have?
Luthern drilled a penalty kick into the back of the net to give the Poland High girls soccer team a 2-1 win over Mooney in the championship game of the Division II district tournament Saturday.
After battling through 80 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of sudden victory overtime, the top two seeds in the tournament needed a shootout to determine the winner.
Mooney (16-2-1), shooting first, missed on three of its first four shots while the Bulldogs (14-4-1) hit two of their first three.
As Luthern approached her attempt, the ball rolled away and she had to shoot again. The drama wasn't enough to rattle her -- her kick ripped into the net sending Poland to its seventh regional in the past 11 seasons.
Poland will meet Hathaway Brown in Wednesday's regional at Ravenna High School at 7 p.m.
Luthern had just one goal in the first 18 games and was just slightly surprised she was chosen to participate.
"I wasn't warmed up," she said. "But, I've been making some in practice. I knew there was a possibility."
She didn't become unsettled when the wind rolled the ball away on her first try.
"I wanted to go right the first time but then the ball rolled and I had to do it again. So, second time, it was like this one is going to count and I put it in."
While the team swarmed her when her kick clinched the decision, her coach knew his choice of shoot-out kickers was correct.
"Ashley Luthern is maybe our most skilled player," Poland coach Jimmy Sutman said.
"In practice she has such a nice touch."
Back and forth
Poland took a 1-0 lead into the break when Sarah Anderson headed in a corner kick, giving the junior 14 scores this season.
Mooney junior Marisa Simon, who was bottled up much of the game by Sutman's defense, knotted the matter with 37 minutes remaining on a shot that knocked in off the upright.
Mooney was the more aggressive team after the break, out-shooting Poland 23-8 overall.
However, Bulldog sophomore goalie Samantha Stanich was up to the challenge.
"They had some tremendous shots," Sutman said.
"Mooney was machine-gunning some shots, especially in the second half. She found a way to tip it or just get a piece of it."
The Cardinals were playing in their first-ever district final.
"We had five chances in the first half, we had six chances the second half and three in the overtime," Mooney coach Alex Simon said.
"If we can't take advantage of the chances, we're going to lose."