Sweet victory: Penalty kick sends Lady Bobcats to state tournament
By Scott Loftis
The Berryville girls soccer team is headed to the state tournament after one of the most dramatic victories in program history.
Senior Vicky Villatoro scored on a penalty kick to give the Lady Bobcats a 5-4 victory over host Clarksville in the first round of the 4A-West district tournament Wednesday night, setting off a celebration among the Berryville players, coaches and fans.
“It’s one of those celebrations that only happen in soccer,” said Berryville coach Aaron Hall. “Things are so intense, and then, boom, it’s over.”
The victory was especially gratifying for Berryville (11-9) because it avenged a controversial regular-season loss to the Lady Panthers on the same field and capped another game in which the Lady Bobcats were unhappy with the officiating.
“I think they’re more relieved than thrilled,” Hall said of his players’ reactions. “These seniors are used to making a deep run in the state tournament, and they felt like they were being cheated and weren’t being given a fair shot. But they kept plugging and kept shooting and kept playing and good things happened.”
Clarksville led 1-0 at halftime and held the lead for the first several minutes of the second half. Berryville appeared to score the tying goal with 10 minutes left, but the officials waved off the goal on an out-of-bounds call. Hall said video footage clearly showed the call to be incorrect.
“At this point, tempers are flaring,” Hall said. “It had just been brewing and brewing and brewing.”
Despite the lost goal, the Lady Bobcats wouldn’t be denied. Senior Maryn Jones, who had scored four goals in each of the Lady Bobcats’ last two games, curled in a difficult kick late in regulation to send the game to penalty kicks.
“We felt like we should have won 2-1 in regulation,” Hall said. “But it goes to penalty kicks, so OK.”
Clarksville made a pair of penalty kicks before sophomore Ashlee Easter converted to pull Berryville within one. Senior goalkeeper Amber Veach then came through with a huge save, and senior Karleigh Giles scored to tie it. After Clarksville missed its final attempt, Villatoro nailed the game-winner.
“It was an exciting, big win for our girls,” Hall said. “I feel like we had to overcome more obstacles in this game than any other game we’ve ever played.”
The victory assures the Lady Bobcats a spot in the Class 4A State Tournament that begins Thursday, May 9, in Batesville.
Berryville, which advanced to the state championship game last season, hosted Harrison in a district semifinal game Thursday. A win would put the Lady Bobcats in the championship game at 5 p.m. Friday. The third-place game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.