ENGLEWOOD, Tenn. -- The fate of the McMinn Central girls' soccer team essentially had been in the hands -- and sometimes feet -- of goalkeeper Taylor Young Thursday evening against Grace Academy, so it was fitting that the ball would die there at the end.
Young made 13 saves as the Chargerettes claimed the Region 3-A/AA championship with a 4-3 penalty-kick shootout victory over the Lady Golden Eagles. McMinn Central (12-7-3) will host Chattanooga Christian, which fell 1-0 to Notre Dame in the 4-A/AA title match, in Saturday's sectional round, while Grace will visit the Lady Irish.
"I think our defense really played well when we had to tonight," Young said. "We stayed together."
The shootout ended when Young saved a PK by Olivia Rowell.
"It's the best feeling in the world," she said of the match-clinching save. "It makes you feel like a hero."
The McMinn Central defenders spent most of the match on their heels after an injury to standout forward Jessi Young forced coach Bill McConkey to play more conservatively. The Chargerettes held a 1-0 lead on Young's 36th goal of the season, but Grace's Holly Badger tied the match in the 58th minute.
The Lady Golden Eagles took the lead in the 92nd minute on Elisabeth Mouw's goal, which looked to be the game-winner as overtime wore on, but on a late counter by McMinn Central, Nicole Watson scored in the final minute to push the match to the shootout.
Grace (17-3-1) had two goals nullified due to offside calls, while two others -- including one in the shootout -- glance off the crossbar and another hit the side post.
"I think we showed a lot tonight. I hope the girls aren't done, because what I saw tonight, I think we can play with anyone," Grace coach Gretchen Hammel said. "The girls played their hearts out and did the best they could do.
"I'm proud of them."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.
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