Girls’ soccer: National Cathedral defeats Flint Hill in penalty shootout for second straight ISL AA title

With her team looking to close out a penalty shootout win against Flint Hill, National Cathedral goalkeeper Erica Sanders leapt to her left and got both hands on a Huskies’ shot.

The save sealed the Eagles’ 1-1 (3-0) victory in Sunday’s Independent School League AA championship at Episcopal High in Alexandria, and also provided a measure of redemption for National Cathedral’s sophomore netminder.

A misplayed Sanders clearance in the 66th minute set up Flint Hill forward Jaclyn Koger for the game-tying goal, forcing extra time, and the tense conclusion to the match.

“I just kind of judged the body and eyes of the player,” Sanders said of her last save. “About 50 percent of defending penalty kicks is guessing. I dove to one side, the correct side, and got it.

“I really wanted to redeem myself for the goal I allowed, so I made myself work harder for that reason.”

The experienced Sanders said she felt very little nerves headed in the penalty shootout and it helped that she had been in this situation one year prior. As a freshman, Sanders was in net for the Eagles in their 7-6 penalty shootout title game victory against Georgetown Visitation.

Kennedy Jones gave the Eagles (12-1-3) the lead in the 29th minute, tapping in a nifty cross into the box from midfielder and coveted basketball recruit Marta Sniezek.

After a scoreless overtime, Hannah Menard, Sarah Lipson and Bella Blosser converted their shootout attempts while the Huskies (14-7) watched their first two efforts sail over the crossbar.

Sanders then made the final stop to close the game and ran toward second-year Coach Danielle Malagari and said, “I love penalty kicks.”

The title was the second for Malagari in her second season at the helm. Her alma mater Good Counsel won the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference crown Saturday .

“This one was definitely sweeter than the last one because it’s a different meaning this year,” Malagari said. “The ISL AA changed the rules to where if you win the regular season you can win the banner, but if you win the tournament title you share the banner if you’re not the regular season champion.

“We are the regular season and tournament champions and don’t have to share the banner. The girls were out here to say they didn’t want to share it, and they did a great job.”

In the ISL A final, Holton-Arms defeated Stone Ridge, 2-1. Panthers sophomore Megan Saunders scored one goal and added an assist for Holton-Arms. Junior Katie Taylor also chipped in a goal.

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