SANDY -- For the second straight year, Waterford outlasted the St. Joseph girls soccer team in the state 2-A championship match, winning in a 3-0 PK shootout over the Jayhawks at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night.
IT was the fourth-straight year the two teams met in the 2-A title match in which Waterford now holds a 3-1 advantage including a 1-0 win over the Jayhawks last year.
"It's been a big rivalry between the two of us," St Joseph coach Alex Salvo said. "Every season we look forward to it because we know it will bring the best out of us."
A shootout victory over Manti during Friday night's semifinal landed the Jayhawks in the championship and Waterford's 2-1 win over Maeser Prep Academy put the Ravens in the driver's seat for Saturday's finale.
St. Joseph got on the board first in the 16th minute when a corner kick landed in front of senior defender Katie Panushka who deflected it past Waterford goalie Lauren Groathouse for her fifth goal of the season.
"I just tried to get any part of my body on it," Panushka said. "It was rolling around and I just tried to poke it in. It was ugly but it got the job done."
Groathouse came into Saturday's game with a 2-A-leading nine shutouts over 17 games and aside from Panushka's score, was perfect on the night.
A key injury to St. Joseph midfielder Kalli Kashiwaeda late in the first half hurt the St. Joseph attack and was evident throughout the remainder of the game.
"That changed the whole picture of the game," Salvo said. "Something like that is very difficult when you don't have a big bench."
Waterford equalized in the 63rd minute as sophomore Grace Sponaugle blasted a shot from beyond the box that just slipped through St. Joseph goalie Ali Koehler's hands and into the net, tying the game at one.
Koehler entered Saturday's game with eight shutouts over 16 games.
During the second overtime, Waterford's attack kept the ball on the St. Joseph side of the field but couldn't find the go-ahead score as Panushka and Koehler anchored a stingy Jayhawk defense.
Waterford shined in the shootout, though, as Groathouse watched two Jayhawk attempts bounce off goal bars before coming up with a leaping save to shut out St. Joseph on penalty kicks.
Koehler wasn't as fortunate as Waterford buried their first two attempts and after an unsuccessful third try, iced the game when senior midfielder Sidney Harrison put a shot to high-center as Koehler dove right.
Despite the disappointing finish, the St. Joseph girls held their heads high and Salvo credited his team with yet another hard-fought championship.
"I'm so proud of these girls," he said. "They are great girls."
After a decorated career in multiple sports at St. Joseph, Panushka said the loss, her last in a Jayhawk soccer jersey, was bittersweet.
"It's my last game and my last time being her and I really wanted to end with a win," she said. "But I'm really just happy to be here. It's amazing to get to play on this field and have this wonderful opportunity."