Stacie Muehling is known more so for her defense most times on the soccer field. But on Saturday, it was her offense that has the Fort Zumwalt South Bulldogs headed to a special place next week.
Muehling, a senior center back, converted a penalty kick for a goal with just 19 minutes left in the first half and Zumwalt South overcame a two-hour lightning delay and a tough Mary Institute/Country Day club for a 1-0 victory in a Class 3 quarterfinal Saturday at MICDS.
Fort Zumwalt South, winners of 9 of its last 10 games, will make first state tournament appearance next Friday at 6 p.m. against Webster Groves in a Class 3 semifinal at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City.
“It is our first trip to state and the first time we have made it past sectional and the first time for the girls making it this far,” Bulldogs coach Jim Layne said.
“At one point in the season we were 5-11-2 and we were wondering what we were going to do and Stacy and I talked and we promised to do what i could to be extremely positive and hoped that would filter onto the girls and told her that it was up to her to make sure that the girls would play well every game on the field.”
Leading scorer Claudia King usually provides the big goals for Zumwalt South but against MICDS, it was Muehling’s turn to come up big with the ball as she fired in a penalty kick 21 minutes into the first half for a 1-0 lead.
“She had a PK and it was a very solid PK,” Layne said. “The goalie kind of guessed the right direction (on it) but Stacy had quite a bit of pace on it and she was able to put it past her.”
The Bulldogs were able to keep their offense in push mode and get more opportunities near the box but it stayed a one-goal game into the halftime break.
Both teams continued to push for scoring chances in the second half but then with 27 minutes left in the second half, Mother Nature threw a monkey wrench into the action with a two-hour lightning delay that forced halted play.
“It was rough to have the delay and we realized it was going to be quite some time but the coaches agreed that we wanted to try and get the game in and get it done and we set 3:30 as the approximate kickoff time,” Layne said. “We didn’t have any issues, we got started right then and there we were able to finish it up.”
Senior goalie Grace Gehner was strong again in the net as she recorded her second shutout in a week, just five days after blanking perennial Class 3 power St. Dominic 1-0 in the sectional round.
Gehner, who started the season as the Bulldogs number keeper has excelled in the playoffs.
“She has given up just 5 or 6 goals in 11 games and with her in the back of the net we just feel a little bit more confident,” Layne said.
Sophomore defender Hannah Lenhoff also stepped up big as she frustrated and shut down MICDS junior star Delaney Schultz and helped slow down the Rams offense.
“We gave Hannah the job of shadowing Schultz the entire game and Hannah did phenomenal job,” Layne said.
The Bulldogs are definitely looking forward to another week of practice and making their first trip to the Class 4 Final Four in Kansas City next weekend.
“It should be a great experience for our eight seniors and the team its something that they should embrace,” Layne said.
MICDS finished the season at 14-8.
Notes: In other soccer playoff action on Saturday, Francis Howell Central fell to Eureka 3-1 in the Class 4 quarterfinals and Fort Zumwalt West was blanked 2-0 by St. Joseph’s Academy in another Class 4 quarterfinal match.