Mequon — This tie was as good as a win for the Homestead girls soccer team.
The Highlanders played Brookfield Central to a 0-0 tie through regulation and two overtime periods Thursday in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal at Homestead. Homestead finally advanced to the sectional final by beating the Lancers in a penalty kick shootout, 6-5.
Homestead coach Rich Dorn - no fan of the shootout system - will take it.
"We're happy to advance," Dorn said. "But both teams played magnificently. In the end, we didn't beat them, we tied."
Homestead (18-3-2) will play Brookfield East - ranked No. 1 in the state and in the area by the Journal Sentinel - at 7 p.m. Saturday at Brookfield Central for a berth at next weekend's state tournament. East beat Cedarburg, 2-0, in the other semifinal.
Fifth-ranked Homestead used a solid defense to neutralize No. 8 Central's offense and make sure the Lancers (14-6-3) wouldn't make a repeat appearance at the state tournament.
"Last year we found out that it is not easy to get to state," Central coach Jason Burdge said. "You need to win some big games along the way. When you get this far in the playoffs, almost any team can get there. It's all a matter of what team will show up."
Neither team really showed anything in the first half, although both squads had good looks at the goal.
In the 13th minute, Homestead midfielder Mara Hale corralled a rebound and launched a shot that pounded the crossbar. Central countered in the 24th minute when junior Katie Mahkorn found Gina Scaffidi alone on the left side. But Scaffidi's bullet went right to Homestead goalkeeper Emily Jakubiak.
The Lancers had another good opportunity in the waning seconds of the half. Aly Netter got free down the right side and fed a cross to Sarah Baker. Baker's hard header flicked right into Jakubiak's hands.
Homestead went on the attack in the second half. The Highlanders created several nice chances, but Central goalkeeper Katie Heil stymied them. In the 44th minute, Heil came out of the box and snagged a shot from Olivia Tehan. Heil also jumped high to snare two corner kicks lobbed into the box.
"It took us until the middle of the second half to find our offense," Dorn said. "We were playing too many long balls, and that played right into the strength of Central's defense. They are a strong defensive team, and the air is not our strength."
In the 69th minute, Highlander sophomore Zoe Ziegler sent a free kick into the box. Both Tehan and senior Krystyna Kudlata had open shots, but Heil managed to gum up both of them and gobble up the ball. In the 74th minute, Heil punched away a long pass that Molly Hobbs sent near the goal.
"Katie gave us exactly what a senior goalkeeper should give you," Burdge said. "If it wasn't for her playing like she did, the game would have been very different."
In the shootout, each team made its first five penalty kicks. Homestead captain Hale made the team's sixth straight kick, and Central's Emma Knetter fired her shot over the goal to end it.