COLUMBIA — Alton Marquette goalie Abby Porter read it perfectly.
Porter stopped a penalty kick by Columbia's Rachel Ribolzi as the Explorers held off the Eagles 3-2 on Friday in the championship game of the Class 2A Columbia Girls Soccer Sectional.
The game was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation and it went down to penalty kicks after two scoreless overtime periods.
The Explorers outscored the Eagles 4-3 on penalty kicks with Porter's save on Ribolzi providing the winning margin.
"Abby is one of the best keepers in the area,'' Explorers coach Steve Mitchell said. "She's great at PKs.''
The 6-foot-1 Porter read it correctly that Ribolzi was going for the left corner of the goal, and she was in position in plenty of time to make the save.
"I knew I had before I had it,'' Porter said. "I was yelling before I even touched it. I'm still so excited.''
Th Explorers (17-5-1) advance to play Rochester at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Metro-East Lutheran Super-Sectional.
Rochester beat Litchfield 5-0 Friday in the championship game of the Rochester Sectional.
The Explorers, who had beaten the Eagles 2-0 early in the season, were pushed to the limit in the rematch.
The Eagles led 1-0 and 2-1 in the game.
"We fought all the way to end and took it down to PKs,'' said Columbia coach Steve Ross, whose team ended the season with a 10-11 record. "They have a fantastic keeper there. The biggest goalie I've ever seen.
"This team came together at the right time. I think the thing that sums our season is up is that's the team we've had for only maybe three weeks of the season. We had two stretches of three weeks where we had four starters out. They were key players, and the team perservered through that.
"Players stepped up to fill that void, and yeah, we might have got some losses in those columns, but we gained valuable experience and got ready for the postseason.''
The Explorers hadn't allowed a goal in eight straight games coming into the contest, but the Eagles' Casey Wood raced down the left side and around a defender to score just 8 minutes, 22 seconds into the first half.
"All of the sudden they scored, and we went into shock mode like we weren't used to that,'' Mitchell said.
The Explorers tied the game on a shot by Adriana Schindler with 3:06 left in the first half.
The Eagles regained the lead on goal by Claire Hausmann, who was in the right spot at the right time to kick in the rebound of a shot by Lauren Kaempfe after it was batted away by Porter.
"They had not been challenged in the whole postseason, and this definitely was their toughest game,'' Ross said. "We felt like we had the advantage here. We felt like we had the speed on them and the aggressiveness and the finishing ability. We got a couple of goals past them.''
Mitchell said the physical nature of the game along with the speed of Kaempfe caused his team problems.
"There is a lot of jersey pulling and elbows and turning the back, and it fit right into their style of play,'' Mitchell said. "They're a good team. That No. 5 (Kaempfe) whoever that it is, that kid is just a speed demon.''
The Eagles' Blair Wittenbrink saved a goal when she kicked away a shot in the crease with 14 minutes left in the second half, but Marquette's Annabelle Copeland scored the tying goal from about 30 yards out on a shot that bounced over diving Columbia goal keeper Alison Riddle with 12:45 left.
Porter and Riddle each stopped the first attempt at the start of penalty kicks.
Bailey Hartrich, Danielle Huber, Kate Sanfilippo and Kali Segieda all scored in succession for the Explorers, while Kristin Rein, Rianna Probst and Madelyn Juenger all scored for the Eagles to set up Porter's game-winning save.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.