Columbus shooters went a perfect 5 for 5, goalkeeper Jasmine Podany made a stop on the first shot she faced in the shootout and the Discoverer girls earned a payback win over Hastings on Tuesday at Wilderness Park 1-1 (5-4).
Columbus and Hastings met in the third-place match of the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Tournament on April 6 in North Platte, also a match that ended in a shootout.
Columbus defeated Scottsbluff the day before in what was essentially a play-in game to a four-team bracket. A 1-0 loss to North Platte in the semis set the first meeting between the Discoverers and Tigers - a match Columbus led until the final eight minutes when Hastings found the equalizer.
After 20 minutes of overtime yielded no more goals, Hastings won it in the shootout 4-0.
The Discoverers again led Tuesday before an unlucky bounce inside its own penalty box, gave up just four shots in the final 60 minutes then had goals by Katelyn Lantis, Madison Jenny, Macee Trotta, Molly Roberts and Sofia Gomez-Garcia in the five-round, penalty-kick shootout.
"This means a lot to us because we knew this was a team we could compete against, we knew it was a team we could give more and have a better outcome. Seeing this, it helps us grow even more and it helps us see what we're capable of doing," Gomez-Garcia said. "This shows us what we can do moving forward. You don't always get that second chance, and when you do, we made sure that we finished it this time."
Jenny scored the game's opening goal in the 12th minute in what might rightfully be called a right place, right time kind of finish. Hastings defenders were attempting to pass it from the wing to the center of the field to a teammate, put too much power on the kick and sent it right to the feet of Jenny, who came in alone and whistled a shot left of the keeper.
Hastings caught its own break in the 36th minute on a bouncing ball in the Columbus box that found the hand of a defender. The referee awarded a penalty kick that turned into the tying shot.
Neither side created any more than a fleeting chance here or there in the second half. Columbus had the best opportunities in the overtime with two corners but sent both over top of the goal and behind the end line.
The turning point came after Lantis scored and Podany gloved down a shot right at her in the center of the net in the first round of the shootout.
The win improves Columbus to 6-2 and gives the Discoverers a victory over a ranked opponent.
"We needed this one. It really motivates us to keep on going," Gomez-Garcia said. "Just as I said before, we know our potential now and we know what we are capable of. They're a good, hard team. Us being able to beat them, that says a lot for us."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.