4:19 PMMonday, May 2, 2016

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Manteno Wins State

Manteno Wins State

After a nail-biting semifinal win on May 30, the next day in the state finals, Manteno was able to enjoy a 4-0 win over Rochester to capture the girls 1A soccer crown.

It is the second title for the Panthers who won in 2009, and it also was a great ending for the 11 seniors on the squad who have played together since elementary school.

The Panthers snapped a scoreless with a pair of goals late in the first half. Emily Gathers scored an unassisted goal with 7:25 left in the half, and two minutes later, Sophia Schnitzler tallied an unassisted goal.

The duo continued the scoring in the second goal. Schnitzler assisted Gaither for a score to up the lead to 3-0 24 minutes into the second half. Then a reversal of role, Gaither fed Schnitzler for a goal 10 minutes later. With the four-goal lead, the Panthers (25-2) were able to substitute freely.

Helped by her defense, Emma Shores needed just two saves to record the shutout, the fifth in seven postseason games.

However, the title win would not have happen if the Panthers had not prevail in the 2-1 shootout win over St. Edwards of Elgin.

Schnitlzer happened to be in the right place and at right time as she scored the game winning

"We just knew that St. Edward was the real deal," said Manteno coach Kevin Mikuce. "We had to have a refuse to lose attitude about this game. We just played our hearts out until it was over.

"Sophia just does not get rattled. During her freshman season, she missed a penalty kick during a supersectional contest. She just did not miss tonight.

"Emma (Shores) has not given up a penalty kick goal this season. That is a very impressive feat for her and for us. That is truly incredible."

In the penalty kicks, the Lady Wave's Monica Ramirez shot was deflected away by Shores (5 saves). Kendall Rugebregt shot went off of the cross bar. St. Edward's Chelsea Gnan shot went off of the post.

The Panthers, meanwhile, received penalty kick goals from Alyssa Snodsmith, Hannah Ondrey and Schnitzler. After Schnitzler's game winning tally, the Panthers celebrated on the field and then met with their fans and family.

"It is just an unbelieveable feeling for me to score the game winning goal in penalty kicks," said Schnitzler. "Now, we get a second chance to win a state title. Emma was simply amazing during the penalty kicks. She played a great all around game "

"We just went out and fought hard until the very end," said an elated Shores. "After they scored their goal, I was determined and made sure that they would never ever score again. I was very calm during the penalty kicks and that really helped me to get through it.

"Our sidelines and coaches just went crazy when Hannah (Ondrey) scored that regulation goal. I was just so excited."

However, all of it would not have been possible without a last minute Panther goal.

Ondrey scored a controversial goal that got past Lady Wave's goalie Paige Dykstra but the ball never hit the net with 28 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 1-1. Play continued for a few seconds before a goal was signaled.

"I just didn't know I'd made it until after," said Ondrey. "I was just happy that it went in, and when I found out it did, I just went Oh my gosh, it just brought tears to my eyes."

"Hannah got the ball to cross the goal line," said Mikuce. "That was some very intense action around the net. We just wanted to go out strong and we have done that."

St. Edward had 17 shutouts in 18 games but the Panthers ended that streak.

The Lady Wave's Ashley Lopez scored their first goal of the game at 55:39 of the second half for a 1-0 lead.

Manteno finished the season with a 16-game winning streak. In addition to the two titles, the Panthers placed second in 2010 and 2012.

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