Emma Franzen had just navigated 110 minutes of harrowing, tightrope-without-a-net soccer.
And what was the Air Academy sophomore goalkeeper's reward? Facing five more shots with the season on the line in goal for her first shootout.
“It was a lot of pressure,” Franzen said. “If you make one mistake that’s the end of the game and you’re out.”
She didn’t make the mistake.
The fifth-seeded Kadets survived in a 0-0 tie through regulation and two overtimes with No. 28 Golden when Franzen blocked one shot and saw two others sail high to give her team a 3-2 victory in a shootout.
Franzen had never been involved in a shootout, but it’s not like she was going in without a plan.
“When I do it I try to see where their hips go when they’re running at it, because it’s really hard for a person to swing their hips,” she said. “I was just hoping in the back of my mind that I’d be able to get enough to win.”
Air Academy as a whole did just enough. After a slow first half with the wind that saw the Kadets put just one shot on the goalie, they closed regulation with a flurry of chances on a frigid Wednesday evening. But a shot from sophomore Capri Dewing hit off the crossbar. Another attempt was saved. One pass trickled in front of the net but just out of reach of an Air Academy foot.
Over and over, the Kadets (11-4-1) put themselves in position to win and couldn’t quite seal it.
Then Golden (7-8-1) got into the action.
It took two diving saves from Franzen and a fortuitous break on a corner kick that the Demons thought might have gone in the goal to put this game into overtime.
For Air Academy coach Espen Hosoien, this was hardly a reward for a regular season that was good enough for a top-five seed.
“Something’s wrong there. That’s a good team,” Hosoien said. “For us to be No. 5 and get an opponent like that, I don’t know how that is.”
Hosoien’s thoughts when the game reached a shootout turned to his seniors. They were part of a group that was ousted on penalty kicks by Mullen as freshmen. He didn’t want history to repeat itself.
It did not, and the Kadets survived to set up a matchup with Cheyenne Mountain on Saturday in the round of 16 in what Hosoien feels is a wide-open 4A field.
“I’m happy that we created chances, I love our desire and our will to keep plugging away,” he said. “PKs is always kind of a crapshoot, but I thought we were the better team overall and I thought we deserved to win.
“We have a young team and it was great to see those guys take responsibility and play and keep believing.”