Shooting to thrill
By STEVE SPINKS
NADINE Toniello knew she was having a bad day when she had to play goalkeeper for the Lismore Workers women's second division soccer team last weekend.
Normally a mid-fielder, Toniello grudgingly took the gloves because Workers' regular goalie was unavailable.
Unfortunately, Toniello ended up spending longer than usual in front of the net.
The score between Workers and Lismore Thistles was locked 1-all at full-time in a qualifying semi-final.
The game went to 10 minutes of extra time. But still the two teams couldn't be separated.
The game then went to a penalty shoot-out. After the regulation five attempts, the two teams still couldn't be separated.
Workers and Thistles then went shot for shot until Workers eventually prevailed ... after a combined 26 attempts and just under three hours of play.
Anecdotal evidence suggests it is the longest penalty shoot-out in senior Far North Coast soccer history.
"It (the game) was never supposed to go to a penalty shoot-out," chuckled Toniello.
"It was my first penalty shoot-out as a goalie.
"We were saying all along, we don't want it to go to penalties."
Toniello, who ended up with some grazed knees as a result of the shoot-out, admitted the victory wasn't down to her great skill as a 'keeper.
"A couple of shots were kicked straight to me," she laughed.
"And a few missed."
The back-up keeper also had to take her own penalty, which she coolly slotted home.
Coach of the Thistles side, Joanne Beardow, found it difficult standing on the sideline.
"It's a horrible way to win or lose a game," she said.
"But there has to be a result.
"We (coaches) couldn't stand out in the middle with them; we had to stay on the sideline."
The coach of Workers, Paul Ianna, said he'd never seen anything like the shoot-out before.
"My girls were ecstatic," he said.
"There were three girls in the team who had never played any soccer before and two (Kristy Hickling and Renee Allman) who had never taken a penalty."
Thistles' Sianne Cleaver is also a first year player.
Remarkably, even considering the shoot-out, little separates the two teams.
Before the semi-final, they had played each other three times for a win apiece and a draw.
They also finished level on the competition ladder.
By virtue of their amazing penalty goal victory, Workers progress to play Alston-ville in the major semi-final, while Thistles will take on Woodburn in the minor semi-final this weekend.
Toniello is hoping for a move back to the mid-field.