Dakota saves the day for Saints | VailDaily.com

Dakota saves the day for Saints

PARACHUTE, Colorado ” For most of the season, Vail Christian goalie Dakota Francis has had to have felt like one of those ducks in a shooting arcade.

The Saints have counted on the sophomore to keep them in games, and by and large, she’s been up to the task.

Thursday, it got a little ridiculous. Francis stopped three-consecutive Grand Valley penalty kicks in the 78th minute to preserve a 1-1 tie against the Cardinals.

The Saints got whistled in the box late in the waning moments, setting up a nightmare situation. In a penalty kick, the keeper is not allowed to move off the goal line.

On the original kick, Francis smothered the shot but the referee ruled that she moved off her line, so Grand Valley got another go of it.

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On kick No. 2, Francis stuffed the Cardinals again, and the refs whistled her again.

The third time was a charm ” for Francis. She made another spectacular stop, and this time, there was no whistle. While Saints coach Barbara Wilson was tactful after the game about the officiating, she is probably half-expecting to get a phone call today telling her that Francis has to return to Parachute to face a fourth penalty kick.

“Dakota had a great game,” Wilson said. “She had great presence and poise.”

Aside from that little drama in the 78th minute, all the scoring came in the first half. The Saints’ McKenzie O’Brien fired a shot on the Cardinals’ net, and the rebound came out to Brooke Bowles. The team’s only junior was right on the spot with the rebound and Vall Christian had a brief 1-0 lead.

It was a short-lived lead as Grand Valley came back one minute later with the equalizer. The Saints pushed up in both overtime frames, moving Sammy Francis to striker from her usual fullback spot, but to no avail.

“I think we were understandably tired,” Wilson said. “It was our third game (in four days). We came out in the overtimes and worked as hard as we could.”

Vail Christian (1-5-1) hosts Coal Ridge Monday at Freedom Park at 4 p.m.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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