After 100 minutes could not decide the outcome, Rachel Rhodes took things into her own hands -- and feet.
After the Palatine keeper converted her fifth-round spot-kick, she then turned away Emily Novak's attempt to give the Pirates a 5-4 shootout advantage and 3-2 victory over Prospect on Wednesday afternoon at Grant Blaney Stadium in Buffalo Grove.
The win sends the No. 8 seed Pirates (12-7-2) into the regional final this Friday evening against top seed Buffalo Grove (20-2-3).
"We just didn't play very well in that second half, letting Prospect get back into the game, and keeping us under pressure the entire half," said Rhodes, a senior. "But we still found a way to get into overtime, where we started to play a little, then just got it done in PK's."
That the Knights (12-10-1) were able to stay alive after seemingly being down and out for good was a credit to Tom Froats' team, which saw 10 seniors playing their final high school match.
"Things didn't begin very well for us last night, and again today when we conceded a second dead-ball goal to give them a 2-0 advantage at the break," said Froats. "But just as we did in the early minutes last night, we came back today in that second half, and played with so much pride and energy, and nearly came out of here with the result we wanted to have."
After several weather delays Tuesday night, officials suspended the action after the Pirates had taken a 1-0 lead on the strength of a Kellie Reynolds goal off Gina Falato's corner in the 15th minute.
Just before intermission, the Pirates struck again on another set-piece opportunity, this time with Erin Mayer thumping a header past keeper Mehgan Rickett, who had little chance after Falato bent her serve from the corner perfectly to the spot.
"Maybe another one would have finished them off, but in the end, we were fortunate they didn't do the same to us, because they enjoyed the run of play the entire second half," said Palatine coach Willie Filian.
During the first eight minutes of the second period, the Knights, now bursting with confidence, created 5 corners and 3 deep throws, two of which forced Rhodes to save.
Confusion reigned when the assistant referee thought he saw Rhodes trip a Prospect player at the top of the 6-yard box. After a lengthy discussion with the center referee, Rhodes was given a yellow card, and the Knights were awarded an indirect kick from the spot of the foul.
Rosie Pettenuzzo initiated play with a touch back to Emily Novak, but the senior's left-footed blast went off a player of her own and well over the bar to keep the Pirates 2-goal advantage in place at 58 minutes.
That changed 10 minutes later.
With the Prospect attack still roaring, sophomore Martina Kowalczuk pulled her club back into the match when her one-timer found the back of the net after Jennifer Novak started it all from the left side and Andi Marfilius kept play alive with a wonderful assist.
Kowalczuk equalized at 74 minutes with a brilliant effort, outracing and splitting the Palatine defense before driving a low blast under Rhodes.
"Martina gave us a tremendous effort on her first goal, and that second one to get us even was just marvelous," said Froats.
After two evenly played ten minute extra sessions, the match went into PK's, where Morgan Radtke, Falato, Mayer and Michelle Raymond converted for Palatine. The quartet of Alyssa Cwidak, Trish Benson, Rosie Pettenuzzo and Kim Welk matched their counterparts through four rounds to set up the heroics from Rhodes.
"It's always a little easier when your teammates are perfect in PK's, and for me, I am just glad it all worked out for us in the end," said Rhodes.
"You never know how things are going to end when it goes into PK's," said Froats, "and for us, it just didn't go our way tonight."