MELBOURNE -- Miami Lourdes soccer players dreamed all season about what it would be like to lift up a state championship trophy.
Picking up their distraught teammates off the turf at Melbourne High School was the scene they found themselves playing out instead Saturday night.
The player most in need of a lift was junior goalkeeper Jenny Herold, who spent more than a minute sprawled on the ground face down while roughly 50 yards away. Oviedo celebrated the state championship the Bobcats watched slip away in a 5-3 penalty-kick shootout loss in the Class 5A state championship match.
“It’s a terrible way to lose a game, especially a state championship game,” Lourdes coach Ray Walden said. “It’s why I hate settling games on penalty kicks, but that’s the way it’s set up. It is what it is and you have to give credit to Oviedo, they did a great job.”
Lourdes (20-3), which posted shutouts in all 20 of its victories this season as well as Saturday’s final, fell short of what would have been its first state championship and the first for the school in a sport other than cross-country. The Bobcats allowed only three goals all season.
“We’ve been working so hard all season for this, and our defense was incredible,” a tearful Herold said. “We never relied on one person. All of us helped each other, if not we wouldn’t have had all these shutouts.”
Herold was unable to stop any of the Lions’ five attempts in the penalty kick round, although twice she was able to partially impede the shots.
The most frustrating for Herold came on Oviedo’s third shot when she got in front of a shot by Lions freshman Payton Grewal. Herold blocked it, but was unable to completely secure the ball, and it rolled past the goal line before she could corral it.
On the next shot with Oviedo leading 3-2 at that point, Lions forward Emily Kobryn fired a shot that Herold reacted to a fraction of a second too late. Herold got a hand on the ball, but not enough to slow it down or deflect it from going into the net.
Senior Bailey Plummer and sophomores Christine Hoynack and Sophia Portuondo each made penalty kicks to keep Lourdes alive. But Oviedo senior Mariah Mattingly ended the game when she fired a shot clean past Herold.
“We have none of the shutouts we had or are even here without Jenny,” Plummer said. “She was amazing for us all season.”
Herold helped Lourdes stymie Oviedo for 100 minutes of game play.
Oviedo (16-6-3), which won its second state championship in the past three seasons, did not manage a single shot on goal and had only one actual shot the entire match that was easily secured by Herold.
But Lourdes’ typically potent offense that accounted for 107 goals this season was unable to find the mark.
Oviedo goalkeeper Reagan Funaro had the difference-making save on Lourdes’ first chance when she smothered a shot directly at her by senior Sofia Rosell.
The Lions were familiar with penalty-kick shootouts, having won their state semifinal last week in the same fashion against Clermont East Lake.
None of Lourdes’ matches had reached the shootout round this season until Saturday’s final.
“I know Jenny feels like she should have stopped one of those shots, but things like that happen in penalty kicks,” Walden said. “We created chances on our end, but we just couldn’t get a goal to go in for us before it even got to that point.”
Lourdes finished with 13 shots for the match, including four solid, direct attempts on Funaro. None found the mark, and the Lions broke up several other potential chances.
“They knew to come up and challenge us before we could possess and make something happen,” Plummer said. “Other teams this season sometimes backed off and allowed us to control the ball. They didn’t wait and they dropped back defenders and denied us shots over the top.”
If Lourdes hopes to make another run next season, it will have to do so without Plummer, who is one of six seniors along with Rosell, Lori Rodriguez, Cristina Rodriguez-Garcia, Nicole Perez and Amanda Delgado. The Bobcats, however, have a strong core returning that includes Herold.
“This was the greatest experience for us to come here and make history being the first to make it for Lourdes,” Perez said. “It’s something we’ll always cherish.”