Heartbreak: Sutter beaten on PKs after scoreless battle

Feb. 12—It came down to watching the person's eyeball move.

"I look at whichever side they look at last," Sutter Union High senior goalkeeper Grace Diaz said. "If they look at the right side last, 99% of the time they go to the right."

That's how Diaz, a first-year goalkeeper for the Sutter varsity girls soccer team, approaches a penalty kick — essentially a 1-on-1 scenario where the offensive player stands about 10 yards away ready to pounce on the ball.

"You got to hope that you guess right," Sutter head girls soccer coach Tim Danna said.

Sutter's fate on Saturday afternoon against Summerville in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs fell into penalty kicks, where each team got five kicks to try and win following 100 minutes of scoreless action. It's a situation permitted only during playoffs, which Danna said makes it the longest game that the team has played this year.

Diaz was the last line of defense for Sutter, the division's No. 2 seed, and she was called upon to silence five Summerville players — an unenviable situation for any keeper but especially one with just three months experience coming into the task.

Summerville, the seven-seed, got the best of the rookie, with scores on four of its five kicks to win on PKs, 4-2 and advance with a 0-0 (4-2) final over the Huskies.

"I wish I was more aggressive on the side I chose," Diaz said.

Summerville (14-8-2) will move on to take on No. 6 Argonaut — 1-0 upset winner over No. 3 Galt on Saturday night.

Sutter's season is over at 14-6-1.

Danna said, like in most scoreless battles, the outcome invariably comes down to finishing opportunities.

"We were not able to put the ball into the back of the net," said Danna, a first-year coach taking over for a club that made it to the SJS D-V final in its first year in the section in 2023. "We had our chances. I lost track at how many opportunities, like clear opportunities ... It just wasn't meant to be."

In the opening 40 minutes, Sutter had seven legit shots on goal, including a PK from senior Bri Lopez in the closing minute that seemed to short hop Summerville goalkeeper Emily Costa before the Tuolumne-bred sophomore was able to corral it securely to end the half scoreless.

Lopez immediately came out firing in the second half, including another crack 1-on-1 with Costa that the keeper won again.

"She did what she needed to do," Danna said. "A lot of it is you go further and further not taking advantage and you start to get discouraged. It came back to bite us today."

Despite the heartbreaking ending that saw Diaz in goal when the last PK slid by, all cannot be laid upon Sutter's first-year keeper.

"Grace has been incredible," Danna said. "She followed me out here after not (touching) a soccer ball until three months ago. She's our all-state shortstop for softball. This is the first time she has been in a shootout, I don't think she ever knew what a shootout was until about a week ago, but she did incredible this year and was a part of that strong defense that we had."

Danna said it's difficult to say goodbye after a long season that resulted in a third-place finish in the Pioneer Valley League and second straight playoff appearance.

"This is the best team that I ever coached," Danna said. "We've had that family mentality and they bought into it from day one, and the part that hurts the most is that I don't get to spend all this time with them playing anymore."