Dunn helps ‘Dogs top Sailors on penalty kicks

Palisade goaltender Katie Dunn watches as teammate Nicole Harkreader heads a ball out of the box Tuesday during the Bulldogs’ victory over Steamboat Springs. Dunn stopped two shots in the shootout, helping Palisade advance to the Western Slope League finals.

Katie Dunn has that swagger, that confidence and borderline cockiness only a successful goalie can have.

She believes she’s the best, and she believes she can stop just about any ball.

So, when the Palisade girls soccer team’s chance to play in the Western Slope League championship game came down to penalty kicks Tuesday, well, she stopped them.

Dunn stuffed two Steamboat Springs penalty kicks and watched one sail wide as Palisade topped a 2-2 regulation and double-overtime draw with a 3-1 victory in penalty kicks at Long Family Memorial Park.

“I know I can read the players, and I know I can stop their shots,” Dunn said. “I don’t care what the situation is, I go into it with the same mindset.”
Audrey Rose Kachin hooked in the winning penalty kick for the Bulldogs in near silence, and facing a powerful west-to-east crosswind.

After Kachin sealed the victory, Natalie Combs nearly tackled Kachin as the team mobbed her. Slowly, the team circled up, with one hand raised in the air — Dunn’s.

“I think everyone on this team really believes that Katie can’t be scored on, unless it’s an absolutely amazing goal,” Palisade coach Raina Sorensen said. “I think they knew that going into penalties, and I know Katie knew that, too.

“She’s always amazing back there, and she’s really been a leader for this team.”

Sorensen said the squad practiced penalty kicks early in the week, and it added an extra level of confidence for the Bulldogs.

“We practiced penalties, because every game from here on could end in a shootout,” Sorensen said. “I think it helps that every girl knew that it didn’t matter if they missed, or if Katie didn’t make a save, because they’re confident in what we’re doing, and we’re really a team.”

The Bulldogs started slowly and surrendered a goal in the first five minutes of the game. It wasn’t until Cruz Maestas banged home a goal near the end of the first half that Palisade found a spark.

Courtney Clark fed Maestas who — with a forearm and her legs — fought off three defenders to bank the ball off the left post and into the net.

“That’s Cruz, really,” Sorensen said. “I think her goal really gave us confidence. I think we were ready for (the game), and we wanted to win, but we came out timid. I think it took Cruz doing what Cruz does best, pushing people around, to get us going. She’s a very physical player, and when she gets the ball at her feet, she’s thinking of one thing, and that’s to score. We love her for that.”

With three minutes left in the game, Kachin corralled a loose ball skipping toward the Sailors’ net and buried a solo breakaway into the net.

Moments later, with time about to expire in regulation, Steamboat Springs countered, squeaking a goal inside the near post to force overtime.

The WSL championship game is slated for 7 p.m. Thursday in Glenwood Springs. Palisade will play Battle Mountain, a 3-1 winner Tuesday over Glenwood Springs.


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