By Brady Extin | Daily Reporter

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NEW PALESTINE — New Palestine’s Hoosier Heritage Conference games have all had one thing in common lately — they are decided by penalty kicks.

In a battle for second place in the HHC, that rang true once again. For the third straight Wednesday, and third straight conference match the Dragons went to PKs.

After splitting the last two PK matchups, the added experience paid off in a 2-1 win.

“We didn’t play as well as we wanted to tonight. We gave away a lot of balls and didn’t keep possession like we wanted to. It wasn’t our best game but they fought hard,” New Palestine head coach Erin Clark said. “Anytime you get into a conference game everybody steps their game up. That’s a huge contributor to the tie games because everybody is playing hard and everyone is pressing on both sides.”

Freshman Gabrielle Brown scored the deciding kick for the Dragons in round five.

Pendleton Heights goalie Priscilla Barajas guessed to her right, but Brown had other plans, firing her shot straight up the middle for the goal.

Tylar Whitaker and Mia Knoop had successful PKs prior to Brown.

Vivian Miller had two chances after Barajas was penalized for moving early to save her first attempt, but her second attempt went wide right. Bethany Aldridge attempted the other PK for the Dragons, but was denied by a diving Barajas.

The momentum changer in PKs came in the third round when New Palestine goalie Grace Hasenkamp dove to her right to deny Isabelle Philips to keep things at 1-1. Hasenkamp stopped three of the Pendleton Heights shots.

“The save Grace made on the third shooter was insane. It was a great save. I can’t wait to go back and watch it,” Clark said. “When you make a big save like that it really puts a lot less pressure on the kickers and I think that was a big factor.”

In regulation, after nearly 60 minutes of no scoring, both teams found the back of the net within a 10-minute stretch.

Whitaker got the scoring started with 23 minutes remaining in the second half.

After the Dragons sent the ball from the left side of the box, across to the right, the ball eventually found the foot of Whitaker who beat Barajas.

The Arabians responded 10 minutes later.

After falling behind 1-0, the Pendleton Heights attack became relentless. And after run after run at the net, they finally broke through to tie the game.

Following a save by Hasenkamp, Liz Herrberg cleaned up the rebound and tapped the tying shot into the back of the net.

The Dragons had two more chances to end things in regulation.

Two shots from Whitaker in the final four minutes, including one from an awkward angle towards an open net, went just wide.

“We were just giving the ball up in the middle too much and getting a little bit out of shape,” Clark said. “They kept pressuring us but we held strong and fought back and it turned out in our favor.”

Breaking the second place conference tie was a big point of emphasis leading up to the game for the Dragons, who now move into sole possession of second with a 9-3-1 record and 5-1 HHC record.

“It’s great to win this one because we can still tie for the conference if Mt. Vernon loses to Pendleton Heights,” Clark said. “We talked about it all week about how this was a huge game.”

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