CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The heavily favored George Washington girls soccer team ran onto the field several times in overtime, thinking they had won in their Class AAA Region 3 Championship soccer match against Woodrow Wilson.
However, every time, something just went awry, and the next thing the Patriots knew, they would in a sudden death penalty kick battle against the upstart Flying Eagles.
After neither team could score a goal in two, 40-minute regulation periods to go along with two, 10-minute overtime sessions, GW was able to celebrate after escaping with a 1-0 victory over Woodrow Wilson in the sixth round of penalty kicks at the Trace Fork soccer fields.
With the victory, No. 4 GW (19-2-2) advances to the State Tournament next weekend in Beckley where it will face Washington at approximately 12:30 p.m. Friday. Woodrow's season ended 11-7-4.
"I can't really think right now because we are so excited," GW Coach Megan Johnson said. "It is so well deserved for the girls. We had so many balls bounce off the post and wide. We couldn't get one in. We deserved this win."
In the first penalty kick round, GW and Woodrow Wilson had five players to shoot against the other team's goalkeeper with the team with the most goals declared the winner.
However, each team netted three of the five goals, sending the game into an extra round of penalty kicks. Both the Patriots and Flying Eagles would then alternate one kicker each until one scored a goal and the other team didn't.
Kerrigan Johnson stepped up for Woodrow Wilson, and attempted a shot against GW goalkeeper Olivia Miller. The Patriot senior dove to her left and with one hand, got enough of the ball to tip it away, after it grazed off the right post.
"I was so nervous," Miller said. "Coach calmed me down. I had a feeling it would go to PK's (penalty kicks). I'm comfortable with them. I knew I needed to do this for them. We wanted this so bad."
With a chance to win the game and send GW into the State Tournament, senior Emma Hanna stepped up, and hit a winner just past Woodrow goalkeeper Emily Lane into the back of the net, setting off a wild celebration of players running onto the pitch.
"I am speechless," Mears said. "I had to go hug my team. I just had to keep thinking 'I'm going to do this.' I just thought of it as just another day in practice kicking with my friends. It was back and forth emotion."
Miller was so caught up with emotion she hadn't even realized the team had won after Mears' game winner.
"After I made the save, I wanted to scream, cry, and hug everyone," Miller said. "I was so excited. I didn't even know we had won. I was checking with the ref. Then I realized we had won. It hit me and once and I just ran and hugged my best friends."