KING — Forbush played the way Coach Kenan James had been hoping they would play Saturday night.
For 110 minutes, Forbush wore West Stokes down. The Falcons had taken control everywhere but on the scoreboard. At the end of regulation and through four overtimes, the scoreboard read 1-1.
And then it came down to penalty kicks. Each team had three goals through four penalty kicks.
After the Falcons missed on their fifth penalty kick, Mara Loonen scored to give West Stokes the victory and a date with Newton Conover in Tuesday’s 2A state semifinal game.
It didn’t matter that Forbush registered 23 shots - 13 on net and that West Stokes had 15 shots and seven on net.
Or that after halftime, the Falcons held a 16-6 edge in shots and an 11-3 in shots on goal.
“It was the best game of the season,” James said. “Quite possibly the best game of their career. I was just thrilled with their effort. They continued to be dangerous throughout the overtime.
“We were just a little bit unlucky. You never want to go to PKs.”
“This was two great teams battling,” West Stokes Coach Chris Marley said. “That’s what it’s all about right there.”
Shannon Holden put the Falcons up with 13:55 to play in the game, taking the second shot off a corner kick and putting it past West Stokes goalkeeper Liz Nail. Nail had already made an impossible save before Holden calmly popped it back over the sprawling sophomore keeper.
The Wildcats responded with their own goal with 6:20 remaining. Sarah Robinson crossed a ball to Loonen who dropped it back to Taylor Hopper. Hopper put it just inside the far post.
West Stokes kept up the pressure the remainder of regulation, but it was the only stretch in the second half and in overtime they had the upper hand.
The Wildcats handled Forbush twice during the regular season, handing Forbush its only two Western Piedmont Athletic Conference losses, 2-0 and 3-0. In fact, West Stokes was the last team to beat Forbush.
“Kenan needed to become more diverse with their attack,” Marley said. “The way they played tonight was my worst nightmare. They possessed and mixed in a direct attack.
“Forbush is a great team.”
The first half saw neither team able to seize control. But as the second half wore on, it looked like Forbush was the better team.
“We did exactly what we needed to do,” James said. “That’s the way soccer is. We played well enough to win. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Forbush hit a crossbar; put two more just over the crossbar; and had three opportunities with loose balls in the box. The Falcons were “a bit unlucky,” but Nail and her defense had a lot to do with that.
“Their goalkeeper came to play,” James said. “No 17 (Jordan Grubbs) and No. 2 (Anyssa Van Meter) in the back played huge.
“We had so many opportunities. We missed some second-chance opportunities.”
Forbush keeper Jessica Funk was Nail’s equal, controlling her box. She also snuffed out Loonen’s breakaway opportunity with a sliding tackle outside the box; and in the seventh minute of the first overtime, she tipped a far-post attempt away to preserve the tie.
Forbush finishes their season at 18-5-1. West Stokes moves on with a record of 23-2-1.
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.