By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
FENTON - It ends in a loss. Yet, it feels like a win.
Mid-Buchanan girls' soccer, in just its second season, made it all the way to the Final Four and played both their semifinal and third place matches into overtime.
The Dragons (15-8) tied Saturday's game with less than 20 minutes left in the second half, and played their sixth overtime match of the season, but fell to Greenwood 2-1 in the Class 1 third place match at the Worldwide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton.
A penalty kick by Greenwood's Annabelle Sonnemaker ricocheted off of a couple of Dragons in the box and snuck into the net, giving the Bluejays a victory with 7:50 left in the first overtime.
"I don't think it's quite sunk in yet that we're fourth in the state," Mid-Buchanan coach Danielle Beers said. "They're upset about the loss and I have a hard time being...I'm upset, yes, but at the same time, fourth in the state is amazing for where they started and where they've ended now. So, just so much pride. Extremely proud of them."
The first half ultimately didn't have a lot of action. There were a combined three shots-on-goal in the first 40 minutes. In the second half, both teams had more organized attacks.
Greenwood got on the board first with 22:47 remaining in regulation when Rilyn Anderson dribbled into the Mid-Buchanan box and snuck a ball between the legs of keeper Mallie Lieffring, who was coming up trying to cover.
Mid-Buchanan had the answer about five minutes later. Liv Moeckli got a penalty kick opportunity at the top of the Greenwood box and sent the ball perfectly into the top of the net to knot the match at 1-1 with 17:31 left in the second half.
"I don't know, I was just hoping someone hit it in," Moeckli laughed. "We really needed (a goal). I'm glad we battled so hard. I'm so glad we made it this far and I couldn't be any more proud."
Mid-Buchanan had five shots-on-goal in the second half alone, while Greenwood had six. Emily Parrott had a strong look at a potential game-winning goal with about a minute left in regulation, but Greenwood keeper Ellise Dlabach had the stop.
The Dragons also had seven total corner kicks in the match - six of those after halftime - but none of them ever materialized into any real goal chance.
The teams went back-and-forth in the opening minutes of the first overtime period. Mid-Buchanan was called on a foul in the Greenwood box, which gave the Bluejays a penalty kick opportunity.
Sonnemaker kicked the ball hard and low - hard enough that it bounced off of at least one Dragon defender and bounced into the goal to give Greenwood the win.
A second straight day of overtime heartbreak, but a second straight game in which the Dragons left all they could give out on the pitch.
"I'm just so proud of us and how much we were able to accomplish," senior defender Madison Meyer said after her final high school match. "Most of us have only been playing soccer for six months of our lives. So it's just crazy that we were even able to make it this far. I think we had a great season and we should all be very proud."
Meyer and six other seniors now say goodbye, but they can leave with their heads held high, knowing they helped lay the foundation for a young program that's doing big things.
"Our coaches believe in us," Moeckli said. "That's what got us here. We all believe in each other and it's just going to keep growing."
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