AURORA – It took two lightning delays, a week and two days and one overtime period to decide who would be crowned Suburban Christian Conference girls soccer champion.
But when the dust finally settled, it was Rosary who emerged with the title, edging St. Francis, 1-0, on Saturday morning after scoring a 4-2 advantage in penalty kicks.
In a contest originally scheduled for May 2 but postponed due to weather conditions, St. Francis and Rosary (14-3-3, 9-0 SCC) resumed a scoreless tie with 32:17 left in the match.
After both teams couldn't settle the difference in regulation and overtime, it came down to Maria Witte's tiebreaking penalty kick goal. She made sure she put it away strong as she buried it in the bottom left corner of the net, just past Spartans goalie Jenna DiTusa.
"We definitely did this for our coach [Peter Eastwood], who passed away on Tuesday night," Witte said. "I just felt like an angel was watching over us and that definitely helped. Our defense played really well and overall we did great. Our forwards just kept plugging away."
Eastwood, a former program assistant who hailed from England, recently contracted melanoma and was not able to be outside to coach.
The victory gave Rosary its first conference championship since 2007, as the Royals handed the defending 2A state champion Spartans their first loss since May 2012.
"It's unbelievable," Rosary coach Kristy Kane said. "I feel so thankful to have such a great group of girls. They've worked hard to get here and it's such an amazing feeling that I'm shaking."
Kane felt comfortable that the game resumed where it left off and didn't get restarted because she knew her team had the momentum against the Spartans (14-1, 8-1).
"I wanted it to happen this way because our girls had already played a good first half and eight minutes," she said. "So I felt they worked really hard in the previous part of the game and I wanted to continue. Things were in our favor when the game was suspended and I just wanted to continue with that now."
Witte felt differently, however.
"It would've been nice to play the full game [today], but it is what it is," she said. "It was the refs' call, but I felt pretty good to restart the game."
St. Francis had the only real legitimate shot at a goal in the second overtime as both defenses clamped down and shut out any other opportunity. In the final minute of the second extra frame, the Spartans'
Kaity Bucaro fired a left-side corner kick into Anna Vonderhaar, whose header just missed, hitting the right post from five yards out.
"We out-played them, we out-possessed them, but we couldn't put our opportunities away," St. Francis coach Jim Winslow said. "We need to get better and finish the job."
Unlike Kane, Winslow was frustrated that the game was resumed at the time of its delay rather than restarted.
"We should've played a full game," he said. "But conference rules are what they are. It is what it is."