SOUTH BEND – The ball slammed into the ready hands of Homestead goalkeeper Madison Roush and the celebration began instantly. Roush's teammates sprinted to meet her in one teeming pile, falling all over each other to celebrate their second semistate championship in the last four years.
Roush's save going to her right on a shot from South Bend St. Joseph's Ella Scott in penalty kicks was the decisive play in a 3-2 victory in kicks for the Class 3A No. 2 Spartans after regulation time and a pair of extra periods had failed to yield a goal Saturday at St. Joe.
"The way (Scott) was stepping up to the line, she seemed like she was going to open her hips a different way and go to my right side," Roush said. "I just figured I was going to commit full on and if it was there it was there."
The semistate championship is the fifth in Homestead history and it sends the unbeaten Spartans (21-0) to the state championship, where they have lost twice, in 2001 and 2018, both times to Carmel. Homestead can win its first girls soccer state title when it meets ___ in Indianapolis.
"Greatest feeling in the entire world," Roush said of the dogpile that followed the triumph.
Following a defensive struggle during the 80 minutes of regulation and 14 minutes of extra time, penalty picks between the Spartans and St. Joe went back and forth. Twice the Spartans fell behind and twice they were able to recover, once on a shot that Roush deflected wide and once because a St. Joe try clanged off the post.
Just before Roush made her winning save, Homestead's Sydney Couch, the Spartans' fifth and final shooter, went to the lower left corner and snuck the ball over the line, despite St. Joe's goalkeeper getting a hand on the shot.
"I just had confidence, I knew exactly where I was going to hit it and I just placed it in there," Couch said. "Right when I made it, I was like, 'This is it,' and I had faith that Madison was going to come away and block the last one."
Earlier in the day at St. Joe, northeast Indiana's other undefeated soccer team, the Leo Lions (19-1-2), suffered its first defeat of the season, falling short of the first semistate crown in program history with a 1-0 loss to Class 2A No. 4 Mishawaka Marian.
No. 10 Leo held the high-scoring Knights in check for the first 79 minutes and 40 seconds.
With less than 30 seconds to play, Mishawaka Marian earned a corner kick and sent it in front of the net. Knight freshman Daisy Moody put it on net and despite a flying deflection from Leo's Lauren Bailey, the ball found the inside of the crossbar, inches over the line, with 20 seconds left.
"It's a heartbreaker, the way it ended," Leo coach Mike Bitler said. "Completely proud of my girls for the whole season. ... We've exceeded everything we've wanted for them. ... We talked to the returners: 'Remember this moment.' Hopefully we're back again here next year."
Note: At Kokomo, boys Class 2A No. 9 Bishop Dwenger saw its season come to a close with a 3-1 semistate loss to second-ranked West Lafayette. The Saints (13-5-2) came up short of the first semistate championship in program history. Dominic Cruz scored the Saints' goal.