Nothing beats the real thing.
Despite routinely working on penalty kicks in practice, Bettendorf keeper Olivia Jackson had never faced with the situation in a game.
The senior rose to the challenge, stopping two shots in penalty kicks as Class 3A No. 8 Bettendorf outlasted Class 2A No. 5 Cedar Rapids Xavier 3-2 (5-4 PK) Saturday at TouVelle Stadium.
"I just did every day what I've done in practice," Jackson said. "It was an out-of-conference game so it was nice to play someone and have us experience a PK shootout before we have one that might really matter in terms of going to state or other things. It was nice to get one under our belt and nice to get the win, too."
Jackson stopped the first attempt in the shootout, a sliding save on a Paige Loney shot to give Bettendorf the upper hand.
The Bulldogs took a 4-3 lead in penalty kicks and had a chance to end the game after five rounds, but Xavier's Maggie Conrad made a diving stop on a shot from Alli Whitaker to keep the shootout going.
Freshman Avery Horner scored in the sixth round, then Jackson just got a hand on a high shot from Xavier's Ella Kluesner, causing the ball to hit the crossbar and come down short of the goal line.
"I didn't even realize it was golden goal, and then I asked (the ref) if it was in, he said, 'No, you won,'" Jackson said. "I slapped it up and it hit the crossbar and I saw it bouncing, and my biggest thought was that it was going to hit my back and go in so I was just trying to clear it."
The Saints (8-4) took a lead in the 10th minute on a goal from Quinn Hanigan, a lead they took into halftime.
The Bulldogs (10-3) came out strong in the second half and took a 2-1 lead thanks to a pair of linkup plays from two underclassmen.
First, sophomore Sophia Utsinger found Horner for a goal in the 47th minute, then Horner returned the favor to Utsinger in the 49th minute.
"I guess we were just going for it," Horner said. "We were going up the field, we just kept pushing forward and connected really well. ... I think this was really good, preparing us for state with teams we don't usually see."
The Bulldogs looked poised to win the game in regulation before Xavier's Caitlynn Daniels ripped a shot from about 25 yards out to tie the game in the 79th minute.
"Her vision and I.Q., that special player you need on the team to make a difference, you saw it at the end there. We needed someone to step up, and she stepped up and made a difference," Xavier head coach Chris Higgins said. "It's good to see where we're at at this stage of the season. It's a good, close battle between two good teams, and it's unlucky someone's gotta lose one of those games."
The Bulldogs have now won six straight and continue to make strides with four games left in the regular season.
"Terrific character win," Bettendorf head coach Todd Hornaday said. "We could have put our heads down after giving up a late goal like that, that can be demoralizing. But we came out in the overtime and played really well."