MILAN – Monica Arndt wears the number 0.
That matched the number of minutes she played in the first 80 minutes of the Division 3 Girls Soccer District finals at Milan Friday.
She also sat out all 20 minutes of overtime.
Photo Gallery: Milan soccer vs. Grosse Ile in District finals
But when the game went into a penalty-kick shootout to decide the winner, Grosse Ile coach Kyle Lesperance called her number.
“I really was a nervous wreck, but it was so exciting,” the sophomore said.
Arndt stopped three of Milan’s four attempts in the shootout to give her team a 2-1 win.
Arndt is Grosse Ile’s penalty-kick specialist.
That’s something Milan coach Phil Hayes didn’t know existed.
“I have never seen that before, but I guess it’s in the rule book,” he said. “She doesn’t play, but she’s their penalty-kick keeper. Kudos to them for prepping her to do that.”
Milan goalkeeper Olivia Henry was impressed.
“Kudos to her,” she said.
It was no surprise that Milan and Grosse Ile had to go to penalty kicks to produce a winner.
The teams split two hotly contested games during the regular season.
No one scored for the first 31 minutes Friday.
Finally, Grosse Ile broke the scoreless deadlock with a goal by Natalee Kirk off an assist by Olivia Zuccaro.
It looked like it might be enough for a long time, but Milan was finally able to tie it with 8:06 left in regulation when Alivia Held converted a nice setup by Leah Mazei.
Hayes was not surprised that his team fought back.
“These girls don’t know what it’s like to give up,” he said. “They will always put their hearts into it. They leave their blood, sweat and tears on the field until they hear the last whistle.”
Grosse Ile had two golden opportunities to score in the first overtime with a pair of penalty kicks.
The first sailed wide of the goal, then Henry made a leaping save on the second.
“Olivia did an amazing job,” Hayes said. “She verbally lifts her team up.”
Neither team was able to muster much offense in the second overtime.
Almost everyone was shocked when Arndt took over in goal for the shootout. Hayes thought only players on the pitch at the end of overtime were allowed to participate in the shootout.
After a delay to consult the rulebook, it was determined that Arndt was eligible to enter the game.
She made diving saves to her left to turn aside Milan’s first two shots, then lunged to her right to stop the third.
Meanwhile, Mallory Botten and Mia Pascuzzi had scored for Grosse Ile sandwiched around a nice save by Henry.
Emma Budd finally beat Arndt on Milan’s fourth attempt, but the Red Devils clinched the best-of-five shootout win and a spot in Tuesday’s regional semifinals at Lansing Catholic against Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard with another successful kick.
Arndt said reading body language is as important as athletic talent when it comes to penalty kicks.
“You look in their eyes and see which way they are facing,” she said. “Usually if they look one way, they are shooting the other way.
“After that first kick, I felt really good. It was a big confidence boost.”
“Honestly, you just have to read their eyes and see where their hips are at,” she said.
Milan finishes with a 12-4-4 record. The Big Reds won the Huron League championship for the first time since 2012 in Hayes’ first year at the helm.
“I am absolutely pleased,” Hayes said. “These girls have grown up. They’ve done everything they could possibly do to get better. We’re a young team. We start six freshmen.
The future looks bright even though Sylvia Koch, Hailey Burd, Allie Millina, Carleigh DeBrock and Julia Satarino will be lost to graduation.
“We have such a good group,” Henry said. “The freshmen play beyond freshmen. … Honestly, I don’t regret anything. We put 110 percent into this game.”
This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Milan’s girls soccer season ends with shootout loss in District finals