PUYALLUP – Tara Johnson was kicking herself last year. She blamed herself for a tough loss.
After missing in the sixth round of a penalty-kick shootout in last year’s 2-1 loss to Columbia River in the state semifinals, Johnson got her shot to redeem herself and her Liberty High School team.
This time, she didn’t disappoint.
Johnson, a senior defender, delivered in the fifth round of the shootout, tucking her shot inside the left post, as Liberty of Issaquah turned back 10th-ranked Seattle Prep in the Class 3A state semifinals on Friday at Sparks Stadium. Liberty (14-4-4) won the shootout 5-4, settling a 1-1 tie after 80 minutes of regulation and 10 more of overtime.
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“Missing last year, and being able to come back and redeem myself is probably the greatest feeling I could ever imagine,” Johnson said. “I just had to put last year behind me, because that’s in the past, and just take a deep breath and put it in the corner. That’s exactly what I did.”
The Patriots face second-ranked Kamiakin (21-1-0) in the 3A final on Saturday at 2 p.m. They will go for the school’s first state championship in girls soccer. Liberty lost the 2011 championship game, 3-2, to Prep.
“As I was running up there (to kick), all these thoughts are going through my head,” Johnson said. “I just pushed those aside and said I was going to make it.
“This is indescribable. I’m so happy to get this opportunity.”
Seattle Prep (13-4-6) faces eighth-ranked Bellevue (16-4-0) for third place on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Sophomore midfielder Sam Hiatt put away a header at the near post off one of Jenay McAuley’s trademark long throw-ins in the 43rd minute to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. It was Hiatt’s fifth goal of the season.
Kali Youngdahl, a senior forward, hammered in a 28-yard blast in the 62nd minute to knot the score at 1-1 for the Patriots. Youngdahl beat Seattle Prep goalkeeper Abby Rockwell to the upper right corner of the net.