Troy — The Plymouth High School girls soccer team overcame a two-goal deficit in less than 13 minutes and moved on with a dramatic victory over Troy in a penalty-kick shootout on Wednesday.
Now, Plymouth is one win away from its first state title.
Rivers Smyth had the game-winning goal in the shootout, finishing off an improbable 3-2 comeback in the Division 1 state semifinal at Troy Athens High School.
Plymouth won the shootout, 4-1, as Troy missed the net twice. Sophie Zelek, Brianna McNab and Emma Lennig also scored in the shootout.
Plymouth (19-4-1) will play top-ranked Novi — 3-2 winners in a shootout victory Wednesday over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central — at 4 p.m. Saturday at Michigan State’s DeMartin Soccer Complex in East Lansing.
Novi beat Plymouth twice this season by 2-0 and 2-1 scores.
“We love (the comebacks), we don’t understand how we’ve done it, but we just this competitive edge to play until the last whistle and just keep fighting,” said senior Becca Przybylo, the goalkeeper in the first half and during the shootout win. “I say the key to beating Novi is playing a full game. If we come out strong and play the first 80 minutes, maybe plus, then we will have a good chance.”
Troy had one shot on goal in the first 10-minute overtime session and outshot Plymouth 2-1 in the second extra session. Sobotka almost had her second goal with about three minutes remaining in the second OT, but it was saved and held by Plymouth goalkeeper Ashley Bowles.
“It’s all focused on don’t let the ball go in the back of the net,” Bowles said. “I don’t even know what the fans said because you just zone in and focus.”
Troy took a 2-0 lead but Plymouth responded with a pair of goals in the final 12:46 to even the score.
Senior Tahra Brodbine and freshman Charlotte Sobotka had goals for Troy (12-6-2), while Zelek and senior Kennedy White added regulation tallies for Plymouth.
In the 17th minute, Troy freshman Olivia Rush chased down a ball just short of the goal line right of Eastern Michigan-bound Przybylo, sending it toward the middle of the goal area.
Brodbine, a Purdue Fort Wayne signee, finished from just outside the 6-yard box for coach Dan Troccoli’s team.
Then, with 20 minutes to play, Troy’s Sobotka scored from 35 yards after a poor clearance by the Plymouth backup goalkeeper left the net open for a 2-0 lead.
Rated No. 5 statewide in the final state coaches association rankings, Plymouth responded as Zelek scored off a Plymouth corner kick with 12:46 to play.
With 7:50 to play, Plymouth then had a goal called back because of an offside call off another corner kick.
However, 35 seconds later, Smyth was taken down in the penalty area, drawing a Plymouth penalty shot for coach Jeff Neschich’s team.
White buried the chance with her 32nd goal this season adding to her school record.
White, an all-state forward last season, has signed to play at Bowling Green next season.
“It’s all mental at that point, I’m just blessed that we were able to have another opportunity,” White said. “There’s never a doubt in my mind that we’ll comeback, and we always just put our heart out and fight until the end.”
Przybylo made three saves in the first half, and Bowles, the junior backup, made six saves after coming in at halftime.
Senior goalkeeper Cassidy Dawson made nine saves for Troy. Sobotka added a goal in the shootout for Troy.
Girls soccer semifinals
Finals at DeMartin Soccer Complex, Michigan State, East Lansing
Novi 3, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 2 (SO)
Plymouth 3, Troy 2 (SO)
Final: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Bloomfield Hills Marian 3, Flint Powers Catholic 1
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 2, Marshall 1 (SO)
Final: Friday, 4 p.m.
Grand Rapids South Christian 2, Boyne City 0
Essexville Garber 1, Warren Regina 0
Final: Friday, 1 p.m.
Kalamazoo Christian 1, North Muskegon 0
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic 6, Saginaw Nouvel 0
Final: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.