Dunlap scores winner in PKs, sends Argos girls to semistate
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
LAKEVILLE –- The Class 1A, No. 6 Argos girls soccer team shed tears after playing No. 9 Andrean in the LaVille regional final at Newton Park Saturday.
But this time, the tears were for reasons different than the way their season ended the last two years.
These were happy tears. After losing in the regional final the last two years, the Lady Dragons have started a new legacy based on their intensity, their chemistry and their toughness.
Finally ending the game in a marathon penalty kick shootout, they beat Andrean 3-2 in penalty kicks for the fifth regional title in school history and the fourth in the class soccer era, which began in 2011.
“It’s so good to get that monkey off my back,” Argos fourth-year coach Joe Stone said. “This is my third straight year here, and I finally got one. Hats off to Andrean. They played a wonderful game. They outplayed us for most of the game. I’m willing to admit that. But I’m so proud of our girls for hanging in there and just playing so hard and scoring when we needed to. They held them.
“It feels great. It feels great.”
Argos won three straight regionals from 2011-13 back when a team needed to win only one game to win a regional. In all three of those seasons, they lost in a semistate semifinal. They had not won a regional since.
They will go for the first semistate title in program history when they play No. 2 Lafayette Central Catholic at Kokomo at 5 p.m. this Saturday. That game will follow the boys semistate game between Argos and Heritage Christian at 3 p.m.
Sophomore Emma Dunlap ended the Andrean game in the 11th penalty kick, beating the Andrean keeper to her left. The Argos sidelines exploded from the sidelines to mob her.
“I know I can make it,” Dunlap said. “I knew I’d be able to do it. The pressure wasn’t really getting to me. I just didn’t think about anything else. I was just calm and relaxed.”
Dunlap is one of six sophomores who play key roles on the Lady Dragons.
“Amazing,” sophomore sweeper Lauren McGlothin said. “As a sophomore, it’s just overwhelming.”
Claudia Nickic and Cristina Martinez scored for Andrean, who finished 13-6.
Dunlap had scored the equalizer in the 25th minute to make it 1-1. Madi VanDerWeele scored on a free kick in the 75th minute to tie the game again after Andrean had taken the lead.
“It feels so good,” VanDerWeele said. “After working my whole four years and making it a few times and finally winning it, it feels amazing.”
Then came the epic shootout.
In the first round of five kicks, McGlothin, Aryanna Allen and Hannah Trump scored within the first four kicks, and Argos led 3-2.
Andrean then scored. Elizabeth Edmonds had a chance for a walk-off winner, but Andrean goalkeeper Briana Houpt made a sprawling save to her left to force a round of sudden death kicks.
Neither team could use any of the same kickers for the second round as they did in the first.
Andrean made their first kick to open the sixth round of kicks. VanDerWeele answered.
Andrean made their second kick. Dunlap answered, her kick careening off the inside of the right post and in the net.
The next Andrean kicker kicked it right at Argos keeper Alyssa Poisel, who caught it for the save. Sydney Shepherd missed off the post for Argos.
In the ninth round of kicks, Poisel stopped an Andrean shot, but Houpt stopped Bella Stults’ attempt.
Andrean scored in Round 10. Argos freshman Cailey Markley, who hadn’t scored a goal all season, then stepped up with the season riding on her. She tucked a shot inside the left post.
“I’ve told these girls from the first day of practice to now (that) you’ve got to believe in yourselves,” Stone said. “Go out and just do it. From Markley to even step on the field as a freshman and play in the back and play 99 percent of the game, she did a wonderful job tonight. She just stepped right up there, and I said, ‘You’re kicking fifth here,’ and she goes, ‘OK.’ It was like it was no big deal.”
The game was tied again. Time for Round 3.
Poisel then stopped Andrean to open the door for Dunlap.
“I’ll probably get fired for this, but we never work on PKs very often,” Stone said with a laugh. “I think we’ve maybe done it once or twice all season. That just tells you the talent of the girls. They can handle going up there and hitting the PKs. And Poisel is just a smart goalie. She’s so intelligent. She can read people, and that’s all she did. She read them. I knew we were going to be in good shape from the very first PK. That girl hit that ball in the corner. Poisel still got her hands on it. When I saw that, I knew we were going to be OK today.”
“Eyes, hips and feet,” Poisel said when asked what she looks for in the opponent when trying to save a penalty kick. “They always have a tell. It might be subtle, but they always do.”
That brought Dunlap to the spot. The celebration was moments later.
The frustrations of losing to Wheeler in the 2018 regional final and Boone Grove in the 2019 regional final were things of the past.
“Honestly I started crying,” McGlothin said. “I was so happy because last year we lost in the regional final, and it was rough. We kind of gave up at the end of Boone Grove last year, but when she scored that, we were all so happy – hugging, crying. It was amazing.”
Argos has won 12 straight games since a 3-4 start. Their streak started with a 2-1 road win over No. 4 Eastbrook on Sept. 12.
VanDerWeele, a team captain along with Shepherd and Poisel, said the team remained confident, even after Houpt’s stellar save on Edmonds. She said her team won because of their “heart.”
“I think with how young we are, we are really mentally tough,” VanDerWeele said. “I couldn’t expect any more.”
Said Dunlap: “I think we’ve been just doing a lot better with positivity and saying ‘good job’ to each other for things and talking as a team and bonding together and just coming together.”
Argos started their day with a 3-1 win over Covenant Christian (DeMotte) in the semifinals. Dunlap scored twice, including the go-ahead goal with 26:50 left off an Edmonds assist that put Argos ahead for good at 2-1. Hannah Trump gave Argos a two-goal lead with 5:39 left off an Aryanna Allen assist.
Lilly Hines assisted Dunlap’s first-half goal against Covenant Christian. Skylar Bos scored her 49th goal of the season for the Lady Knights on a direct kick, and the game would be tied 1-1 at halftime.
Andrean beat Bethany Christian 2-1 in penalty kicks in the second semifinal.
The Argos girls soccer team celebrates with the regional trophy after beating Andrean 3-2 in penalty kicks in a Class 1A regional final at Newton Park in Lakeville Saturday. The No. 6 Lady Dragons (15-4) will play No. 2 Lafayette Central Catholic in the semistate at 5 p.m. this Saturday at Kokomo.