COLUMBIA — Marquette Catholic senior Kate Sanfilippo in essence passed the torch on Tuesday at the Class 1A Columbia Sectional semifinal to sophomore Annebelle Copeland. The duo paired to post both goals in the 2-1 victory over Breese Mater Dei.
The Explorers advance to face Gibault, whch defeated rival Columbia on Tuesday 1-0 in thrilling fashion in the other sectional semifinal. Following two overtime sessions the winner was finally determined by penalty kicks.
Just nine days out of surgery for a broken nose, Copeland nabbed the winning goal to advance her team to the sectional finals against Gibault.
"Since I broke my nose, I haven't had as much play time. I've just wanted to get back on the field and get going," Copeland said. "The was our last game last year. We wanted to get here, get the win and make it further than we did then. It felt good to get the game-winning goal, but without my teammates on the field I couldn't do it alone. Everyone else deserves the credit, too."
Breese Mater Dei senior Olivia Theising found herself in the right place at the right time when she redirected a corner kick by teammate Amy Krebs in the opening minutes of the game.
Battling for more than 30 minutes, the Explorers were looking at going into halftime one goal down. As the time ticked on the clock, the physicality of the game increased, at times increasing some tempers on the field. Marquette found itself with a penalty kick opportunity following a collision in front of the goal with just over two minutes remaining in the half.
Marquette head coach Steve Mitchell called on his senior sensation to take the shot. Sanfilippo found an open side of the net to tie the game at 1-1 before the whistle blew.
Marquette regrouped during the break and hit the field revived after the tie to give both teams a fresh start. Mitchell feels that trailing a goal early may have energized his team who may have been too confident coming into Tuesday's match up.
"We didn't come out to play the first part of the first half," Mitchell said. "We beat them 3-0 early in the season and I think that was in the girls' heads. They needed to see that this wouldn't be an automatic win. Soccer doesn't work that way. In the playoffs your record goes out the window and you start over. That first 15 minutes the Knights came out ready and we didn't."
To change their course, the Explorers went to work hard and fast in the second half. Not wasting any time, Sanfilippo found Copeland waiting in the wings to find the back of the net with less than half a minute burned off the clock. Copeland's goal proved to be the game-winner for Marquette who were able to hold off a panicked group of Knights. The Explorers will find new territory on Friday after the victory over Breese Mater Dei.
"She (Copeland) is phenomenal," Mitchell said. "Her parents left the decision to play up to her. Where any kid could shut down at any time, she just keeps coming. She is a player who wants it bad. She's a good kid and to have someone like that on your team is just a big, big deal."
Whereas improvement was seen on the field by both teams, Mater Dei head coach Jesse Essenpries felt he couldn't ask for more from his players.
"To be honest with you, I'm thrilled with our performance," Essenpries said. "I'm extremely proud of these girls. I asked them to give it everything they had and they did. We made a few more mistakes then they did and they walk away with the victory. We improved from the last time we played them (Marquette), but they improved as well."
Marquette advances to battle Gibault on Friday at 6 p.m. on Columbia's turf field for the Class 1A Columbia Sectional final.
MARQUETTE 2, MATER DEI 1
Mater Dei 1 0 — 1
Marquette 1 1 — 2
MD — Olivia Theising (Amy Krebs, assist) second minute
M — Kate Sanfilippo (Penalty kick) 38th minute
M — Annabelle Copeland (Sanfilippo, assist) 41st minute
Shots: Marquette 17, Mater Dei 5
Saves: Marquette — Lauren Fischer 2, Mater Dei — Heather Schulte 14