MIDDLETOWN - The last time the Berlin girls head soccer coach Katie Amenta saw the championship round of the Class M tournament was 1998, when she was a freshman for the Redcoats.
Nineteen years later, Berlin is going back to the championship.
After two 40-minute halves and two 10-minute overtime periods, Julia Sisti hit the back on the net for the Redcoats on their third and final penalty kick to seal a 2-1 semifinals victory over top-seeded Lewis Mills Tuesday night.
Berlin goalkeeper Lindsay Walsh, meanwhile, deflected three of the Spartans’ four attempts. The Redcoats will face No. 2 Granby (18-1-0) for the Class M title Saturday.
“It was a game of pure heart and will,” Amenta said. “It was a fight every minute. I just kept looking at the clock, minute by minute, get us through this next minute. It could have been anyone's game.”
Berlin knew it would be a challenge facing what was the 18-0 team, but made it a game from the start. Lewis Mills’ offense controlled possession for the first 15 minutes of the game. After that, the Redcoats ran the ball.
In the first half, Berlin had a total of four shots on goal and seven in the second.
“We went into today’s game with a plan and it worked,” Amenta said.
Walsh played an outstanding game, denying many strong goal-scoring opportunities which could have turned the game into a route. She saved eight out of the 11 attempts the Spartans took in the first half and three in the second half.
“[Walsh] is just an athlete,” Amenta said. “She’s not the best soccer player in the world, she’s an athlete and I told our team if we get to PK’s, she will win this for us.”
Walsh deflected a vital corner kick over the net from Lewis Mills with 29:29 left to go in the first half, which could have given the Spartans the first goal of the game.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster,” Walsh said. “From my team keeping me up the whole time, even when I let that goal in, I couldn't thank them enough for all they’ve done for me, not just today but this whole season. Especially in the PK’s them having my back, the whole way, I couldn't ask for more.”
Berlin’s Lexi Kavarsky took back-to-back shots at the 11:32 and 9:25 mark but they were just shy of the net.
With four minutes left to go in the first half, Walsh made another key save, keeping both Berlin and Lewis Mills tied at 0-0.
Lewis Mills’ Jazzy Sztyler-Magee took possession of the ball and ran with it towards goal, with .15 seconds on the clock, it was thought to be nothing but net, but Walsh deflected yet another ball to send the game scoreless into halftime.
Two minutes into the second half, Kavarsky scored, giving the Redcoats the game’s first lead. But with five minutes remaining in the game, Lewis Mills’ Grace Buchanan scored the equalizer to knot the game at 1-1.
The clock expired and both teams remained at one and with no golden-goal rule in place, both teams played two, 10-minute periods.
Maxine Muscatello had a straight shot on the goal, 3:31 minutes left of the first overtime, but missed. Both teams were unable to score in the length of the second period, and the game winner would be decided on penalty kicks.
Berlin missed the first penalty kick, but made up for it when Ashley Wenzel, Alana Garofalo and Sisti found the back of the net.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org