LYNN — You have to applaud Lauren Flynn.
A midfielder for her club soccer team, the Central Catholic senior played goalie this high school season because the Raiders coaching staff knew having her there would give the team the best chance to win.
Flynn had a remarkable season, recording 11 shutouts. But yesterday she faced one of the toughest situations any keeper could be thrust into.
After regulation ended in a 1-1 tie and after two scoreless 10-minute overtimes between Central and Beverly, the Division 1 North championship came down to a best-of-five shootout.
Flynn put her hands on two shots but couldn’t make any stops as Central lost the shootout 4-1 to lose yesterday’s championship game 2-1.
Previously undefeated Central, the No. 3 seed, saw its season end at 15-1-4. Fourth-seeded Beverly advanced to the state semifinals.
“Our goalie Flynn was not a normal goalie before this season,” Central’s Alexa Poulin said. “She did the most selfless thing anyone on this team could have done and stepped up and took that leadership role. And the PKs are no indication of what she’s done for us this season. And so it must have been tough (for her). And it’s tough for all of us.”
During the shootout, Central’s Maggie Carey sent her shot over the crossbar, Aly Spencer hit the right post and Poulin netted her PK.
Both Flynn and Beverly goalie Casey Cook stole the show. They made some remarkable saves, including each stopping breakaways during the overtime sessions, to force the shootout.
“They had an incredible, athletic goalie,” Carey said. “She did really well. And I’ve known our goalie (Flynn) since third grade and she’s a good friend of mine and she has worked so hard throughout this season. Goalie is not her No. 1 position. ... She gave it her all every single game.”
It certainly is difficult to lose a playoff game on penalty kicks.
During the NHIAA playoffs (New Hampshire), there is a shootout after two 20-minute overtime sessions instead of two 10-minute overtime sessions.
“It definitely would have been nice to have a little more time,” Flynn said. “Minus these PKs, we’ve gone undefeated all year long so, yeah, sure, it definitely would have been nice to have a little more.”
Central looked like the better team during regulation and overtime. Cook had to make nine saves, including multiple close-calls in overtime.
Central rifled a shot off the crossbar with 5:44 left in regulation. And Raiders junior midfield Kylie Regan sailed a wide open shot over the crossbar after a nice pass from Alli Wiggins during the first overtime.
“I think we had more opportunities than they had,” Central coach Casey Grange said. “We needed to capitalize and we couldn’t. They took advantage of their opportunities. It’s just a tough way to go out because we haven’t lost all season. So to go down in PKs is kind of like flipping a coin. But you’ve got to give Beverly credit. They got through somehow and we didn’t.”