22 Aug Racing Louisville FC beats FC Bayern Munich
In an ending that fell somewhere between improbable and you-can’t make-this-stuff-up, a backup goalkeeper making her professional debut in relief of a woozy starter connected on a penalty kick to give Racing Louisville FC a Women’s Cup championship victory over FC Bayern Munich.
Then, to top it off, the keeper, Katie Lund, blocked the tying attempt of Bayern Munich goalkeeper Laura Benkarth to secure the tournament title at Lynn Family Stadium. She did this in front of her parents and brother, who had traveled from Texas not expecting the rookie to play. And on her mother Susan’s birthday.
Believe it or don’t, but the announced witnesses numbered 7,813 – a record crowd for Racing Louisville – and the celebration included enough confetti and slackened jaws to show this was something unusual.
Lund did not enter the game until the 71st minute, replacing Michelle Betos, who had played every minute of the season to that point. And though Lund was curiously matter-of-fact about her feats afterward, the post-game pitch was heavily populated by people pinching themselves, including Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
“I was just there to do my job and what an unreal experience,” Lund said. “Honestly, kids dream about this. To have this moment as a pro debut, I couldn’t be more grateful. . .It hasn’t hit me yet.”
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Betos had been battling a stomach flu and left the game complaining of dizziness and determined not to compromise her team by continuing to play in a diminished condition.
“I didn’t want to let the team down,” she said. “Especially when I know I have someone like Katie Lund on the sidelines.”
Lund, 24, was an accomplished college player, recording 11 shutouts in 23 games as a senior at the University of Arkansas. Racing Louisville selected her in November from the Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League expansion draft.
Racing Louisville coach Christy Holly said he had been looking for an opportunity to get Lund in a game, and his approach to FC Bayern showed a willingness to experiment in what amounted to a glorified friendly.
Citing a desire to manage the workload of his regulars, Holly replaced nine of the starters from Wednesday’s league game for Saturday’s Women’s Cup final. Though the late Lund substitution was prompted by Betos’ health, merit also factored into the decision.
“In the last two months, Katie has turned her game up a notch and we wanted to get her in there,” Holly said. “We wanted her to play. We wanted her to get that chance … And my goodness, she stepped up.”
Betos allowed Bayern’s first goal in the 49th minute on a shot by Klara Buhl, and the Munich club held Racing Louisville without a shot – on goal or otherwise – throughout the first half. But Jorian Baucom tied the game in the 54th minute with a breakaway goal on Racing’s first shot of the game. Yuki Nagasato gave the home team a 2-1 lead in the 85th minute, against the champions of the Frauen Bundesliga.
Earlier:Racing Louisville FC tops Chicago in PKs to reach Women’s Cup finals against Bayern Munich
But after Racing’s Gemma Bonner scored an own goal during stoppage time, regulation ended with the score tied, 2-2, pushing the decision to penalty kicks.
Ten players from each team would take their penalty kicks before it came Lund’s turn with the score even at 6-6. At least some of the players and many of the fans were wondering what would be the next step if the keepers were unable to decide the game.
“I didn’t even know I was going to have to go until, I was like, ‘OK, let’s do it,’ ” Lund said.
Though she had last attempted a penalty kick in high school, Lund nailed her shot into the right corner of the net and then lunged to her right to stop Benkarth’s attempt to prolong the drama.
“Katie can strike a ball,” Betos said. “I knew when she stepped up, she’d score. I had no doubt.”
Maybe not. But it’s not every day a goalie scores the winning goal. Or every decade.
“For her to make her debut in a situation like that and to do what she did, it’s unbelievable,” Bonner said. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before. I certainly haven’t been a part of it. It was a unique experience and definitely one that we’ll remember.”
Tim Sullivan: 502-582-4650, email@example.com; Twitter: @TimSullivan714
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