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Top-Seed Iowa Western Scores Dramatic Penalty Kicks Victory to Reach Final
The effort by Larramie's #23 Sierra Kuno sums up the hard fought match which ended with top seed Iowa Western headed to the national championship after winning the penalty kick showdown.
Nov. 22, 2013 - Once again, drama.
No. 1 seed Iowa Western Community College and No. 7 Laramie County Community College played to a 90-minute scoreless draw in Friday's first NJCAA Women's Division I Soccer National Championship semifinal. They then went to two 10-minute scoreless overtimes and for the fifth time in 13 regular tournament games, a match went to penalty kicks.
And in soccer's version of anything can happen it did courtesy of the Iowa Western Reivers' penalty-kick goalkeeping specialist freshman Kayln Kaslon.
Kaslon came off the bench after freshman Kelsey East played the first 110 minutes. She stopped the second shot she faced from sophomore Eri Unai and the final one she faced from sophomore Taylor Hockley. That lifted Iowa Western into the third title game in its history as it prevailed 4-3.
The final is at 7 p.m. on Eastern Florida State College's Melbourne Campus.
The final will be carried live on the web at NJCAA.org and via Space Coast Sports webcast plus it will be broadcast on Eastern Florida's television station WEFS-TV starting at 6:30 p.m. EST. WEFS can be viewed over the air on channel 68.1 and on Bright House cable via channels 9, 455 and 1068.
"It's all in visualizing," Kaslon said of her performance. "When I go over there all I do is visualize me saving another one. Each time I have penalty kicks that's all I do. And, I'm determined."
That Kaslon subbed for East was the plan all along for Reivers head coach Brad Silvey.
"It's mental," Kaslon said. "You've just got to go warm up and do enough warm ups to put yourself in the goal and save two."
Because she's a freshman, Kaslon didn't experience the heartbreak Iowa Western's sophomores did in being eliminated on penalty kicks in last year's tournament by eventual national champion Paradise Valley Community College.
"It feels amazing to help them (sophomores) through this," Kaslon said. "So they can get a little further than they did last year."
Last year's ending certainly was on Silvey's mind but he preferred to talk about the championship game.
"What better way to come here and rectify last year," Silvey said. "It's not the way we drew it up in pre-game but we were prepared from top to bottom wherever this game would end. We wanted the players geared up and ready to go.
"Now we've got a championship game to get ready for so let's stop talking about this one," Silvey added smiling as his players celebrated loudly in the background.
Iowa Western lost in the title game in 2006 and 2007 so Silvey and his team are hoping and planning for the third time to be the charm.
Freshman Brandi Johnson, sophomore Juliana Oliveira, freshman Celia Jimenez and freshman Kristine Reynolds converted penalty kicks for Iowa Western.
Sophomore Sayit Mejia Bello, freshman Yuko Shinomiya and sophomore Halee Moore converted for Laramie.
And in the end while certainly disappointed there were few tears shed among the Laramie team.
"They had a great season," head coach Jim Gardner said. "Preparation in doing it all. John Wooden said if you work as hard you can you'll never be dejected you may be disappointed. I think they're disappointed but nobody's crying. They knew they played the best they could. Somebody's got to win and lose those games no matter what."
Freshman Jessie Bradley kept Laramie in the game with five minutes to go in the second overtime stopping a close-in Iowa Western shot as the Reivers put on relentless pressure.
She also made the best save of the first half at the 13-minute mark when she came far out of the crease to stop an Iowa Western attack in the scoreless first half.
Iowa Western won its pool games defeating the College of Lake County 5-0 and Monroe 1-0. Laramie beat St. Louis Community College 2-0 and tied defending champion Paradise Valley Community College 1-1 in regulation, ousting the Pumas from the tournament 4-2 in penalty kicks.
Laramie finished the season 18-2-3. Iowa Western is 19-2-1.