“I kind of just make up my mind when I see them walking toward me,” she said. “Whatever pops into my head first — ‘right’ or ‘left’ — and I just go there.”
Donaldson hardly had a chance to move as the penalty shot was fired directly at her stomach. Spinning in midair, Donaldson gave the ball a bear hug as she fell to the ground to keep the score of the Lady Knights’ second-round shootout with Grady tied at 3-all.
It was then that Kristian Leone stepped up for River Ridge’s final attempt. Leone shot the ball low and to the back-right corner where it found the net beyond diving Grady goalkeeper Marie Godiers.
Donaldson and Leone were quickly lost in a sea of celebrating players, as River Ridge extended its season into the Class AAAA state quarterfinal Saturday. The Lady Knights (14-4) will host Veterans, looking for revenge against the same team that eliminated them at the same point of the 2013 playoffs.
River Ridge coach Sarah Goodbread said there was a sense of relief when the game — tied at 2-all through regulation and overtime — was finally over.
“I’m as pumped as the girls right now,” she said. “It was a tough game, but they fought until the end. We knew coming in that this was going to be a physical game, and it was going to be a close game. We just tried to play with composure and play the best that we could.”
Grady (13-4-1) struck first when Gracie Griffith made a high curving shot that sailed over Donaldson’s outstretched arms with 14:27 in the first half.
The 5-foot-2 Donaldson said there was nothing she could do to stop the kick, short of growing wings.
Goodbread agreed with her freshman.
“It was an amazing shot,” the coach said. “She did the best she could, but she saved some great goals (Wednesday).”
River Ridge evened the score with 8:47 left in the half.
Leone took an assist from Deven Simpson, worked her way past a trio of Grady defenders and broke into the box past another defender to approach the net. Godiers stepped out to defend, but Leone lifted a floating shot over the goalkeeper’s head.
Despite several attempts by both teams — including a shot on the goal post by River Ridge’s Riley Mullen, and a Grady shot that was saved by a back-peddling Donaldson — neither scored until 13:31 remained in the regulation.
Grady’s Alex Fairley broke toward the net and Donaldson stepped outside the top of the box to kick the ball away, as she had done throughout the game. Fairley, however, slipped past Donaldson and shoot a shot into the empty net for the 2-1 lead.
With the clock running down, River Ridge turned up the intensity. A shot by Leone bounced off the post, but the ball remained inside the box. Leone pursued it, she was fouled just inside the box and then awarded a penalty kick.
The attempt was good to tie the score at 2-all with 11:23 remaining.
After two scoreless overtime periods, the game went to penalty kicks.
Donaldson said it was hard to breathe when she was defending the goal.
“I feel like, if we lose, it’s my fault. If we win, I feel like the world is OK,” she said. “When you are on the line, it’s hard to breathe, but when I save it, there is just this feeling.”
Donaldson saved the first shot by Grady before Alexis Lewis put River Ridge up 1-0 in the shootout. The teams traded goals, with Chanel Mosley and Arlyn Hott scoring for River Ridge, and Grady tied it at 3-all before River Ridge was stopped for the first time. It was then that Donaldson made the save to set up the winning goal by Leone.
Goodbread said the Lady Knights had been practicing penalty kicks.
“We have been working on them for the past two or three weeks, and I’m glad our practice paid off,” Goodbread said.