SEYMOUR — Marlea Ferber sealed it with a kiss. Again.
Two years after coming through in a very similar situation, the Floyd Central senior defender netted the decisive penalty kick — after kissing the ball before taking her shot — in the Highlanders’ 1-0 win over the host Owls in the Class 3A Seymour Sectional semifinals on Thursday night.
“I had this happen sophomore year to me, same exact instance, and I kissed the ball before I did it. I figured the ritual holds true, so I had to do it again,” said Ferber, who buried the seventh penalty kick in Floyd’s sectional semifinal victory over New Albany in 2017.
The three-time defending champion Highlanders (12-4-2) advance to face Jeffersonville (6-6) at 7 p.m. Saturday night in the sectional final. The Red Devils defeated Jennings County 2-0 in Thursday night’s second semifinal.
The two teams played to a scoreless tie during the regular season and played 94 more scoreless minutes Thursday.
The Owls controlled possession for much of the first half and had a very good chance to take a lead into halftime, but Floyd senior goalkeeper Shelby Smith made a huge save in the final seconds to preserve the scoreless tie.
In the second half the Highlanders went on the offensive and peppered Seymour keeper Katherine Snook with 12 shots on goal. To her credit, though, Snook turned them all away.
Following 80 scoreless minutes, the Owls had the lone shot of the first 7-minute overtime period before the Floyd Central had two in the second OT. None found the net, though, setting up the shootout.
Seymour netted its first two PKs while Dakota Bramer hit, but Kendyl Rumple missed for Floyd.
Smith, however, then stopped back-to-back shots to keep the Highlanders in it.
"She knew exactly where those girls were going and she had great form getting to those balls. We couldn’t be more proud of her,” Ferber said.
Floyd senior standout Katie Yankey missed her PK, but classmate Celia Dutton drilled hers to tie it at 2.
Moments later Seymour senior Bailey Lykins, the Owls’ fifth shooter, missed the goal with her shot to set the stage for Ferber’s heroics.
"Marlea’s 110 percent all the time. She’s got inner-strength that is as good as anybody’s,” Floyd coach Lewie Stevens said. “When she was walking up we said, 'Marlea’s probably going to kiss the ball, because she did it two years ago.' And she did, and then she put it in the net."
"I knew she was going to put it in,” Smith added. “She did it sophomore year. I’ve seen her in practice. I knew she was going to put it in, and she did."
The Highlanders now set their sights on their fourth consecutive sectional title.
"I hope we can string two halves together on Saturday,” Stevens said. "Because that’s our feeling, that every game going forward we need to have 80 good, quality minutes. Right now we are not at that point, but the girls dug deep and they have to get some credit for what they did. That’s a tough situation to find yourself in."
Lily Haire’s two first-half goals — in the 10th and 17th minutes — propelled the Red Devils past the Panthers and into the sectional final.
“We’ve been working all year long to get to this point. Right here, this is where it really matters,” Jeff coach Jason Crane said. “We’ve grown so much … but we’re still trying to work on some little things.”
Saturday’s final will be a rematch from Oct. 1, when Floyd beat the Red Devils 5-1.
“We had a gameplan on that one and it was to keep Katie Yankey from getting the ball,” Crane said of the Highlanders’ standout senior striker. “We were trying to keep her from the ball, but sometimes we overthought it and guess what, she got it and she actually scored four of the five [goals].
“We have a gameplan in mind for Saturday and that’s what we’ve been working on for a week. We’d already gauged ourselves into the finals and we were waiting to get, realistically, New Albany or Floyd. That’s what we expected and that’s what our gameplan’s been around.”