Gaylord falls in penalties to Cadillac, knocked from D2 playoffs in district opener
CADILLAC ― Beating a team three times is very hard.
It's a common statement mentioned around sports by coaches and journalists alike, but rarely is it given much more than a mention; if a team is going up against a team they've beaten twice, they will likely have confidence they can get past them a third time.
Gaylord girls soccer found out the reality of that statement the hard way.
Taking on Cadillac, a team they already beat twice in the month of May, in the first round of the MHSAA D2 districts on Thursday, May 25, Gaylord played a much closer game than most expected, fighting to a 2-2 tie through two halves and two overtime periods, sending the game to a penalty kick shootout to decide the victor.
There, Cadillac goalkeeper Jazmin Angell stepped up when they needed it, saving two of four Blue Devil PK attempts to give the Vikings a 3-2 victory and knock Gaylord out of the playoffs.
"I have to give a shoutout to their goalkeeper," Gaylord head coach Chris Adams said. "She wasn't in goal when we played them at home and beat them 8-0. She was in goal when we played them here and beat them 2-1 and she was the player of the match in that game and she was the player of the match today."
Gaylord controlled the pace of the game most of the way but had trouble converting when they got the ball deep in Cadillac territory. A lot of that was due to the improved play from Angell as she corralled through ball after through ball, but the Blue Devils also suffered from some bad bounces that kept them just inches from scoring.
Still, they ended the first half up one goal thanks to a great pass from Claire Gorno that found Mariah Turner in the box, with Turner converting with under a minute to go in the opening half.
Cadillac responded early in the second half, however, with two perfectly executed runs leading to back-to-back goals from Georgette Sake giving the Vikings a 2-0 lead.
It didn't take long for Gaylord to respond, however, with Gorno cashing in a goal from just outside the box to tie the match up at two goals apiece, but that's where the scoring ended, eventually sending the game into overtime. And, after the end of regulation and two 10-minute OT periods and still no winner, it was time for penalty kicks.
Unfortunately for Gaylord, PK's can really go either way, and it can all depend on one player stepping up. On Thursday, it was Cadillac's keeper who owned the day.
"It's always difficult to lose the game on penalties, especially when you controlled the game the way we controlled it. But there has to be a winner and loser, and today Cadillac fought, they worked hard and they won on penalties," Adams said.
It's an unfortunate end to a Gaylord girls soccer season that was overall a successful one. The Blue Devils finished up with a 7-9-2 overall record and a 5-3-2 record in the Big North, good for fourth place.
It also marks the end of the high school careers of their six seniors Alivia Zaremba, Aidda Freeman, Emma Ross, Caidence Cooper, Sydney Deer and Madeline Gohl.
"Just an incredible group," Adams said of his seniors. "One of the hardest working groups that I've ever had the honor to have and coach. They're just a hard-fighting, knowledgable, brave group of seniors that we're definitely going to miss next season."
The Blue Devils should have a chance to be competitive again next season, however, returning two of their top goal scorers in Gorno and Turner as well as major role players in Makena McVannel, Emma Gerstenberger and Emma Horsell-Sehl.
This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Gaylord falls in penalties to Cadillac, knocked from D2 playoffs in district opener