Goalkeeper Trish Neill was the star of the show as Larne Ladies progressed to the last eight of the Irish Trophy on Saturday, thanks to a 5-4 win on penalties over Northern Ireland Civil Service.
With the scores locked at 2-2, the two teams couldn’t be separated after extra-time and Larne prevailed when Neill saved Service’s last flick.
Larne started off strongly, having most of the possession but did find it difficult at times to control the ball on a very bouncy water astro. This resulted in a goal for Service, very much against the run of play. The ball was struck sweetly from the top of the circle and nestled in the bottom corner past the unsighted Neill.
However, Larne came back fighting and started passing the ball stronger and flatter with some lovely work between Michelle Finlay and Lindsey Robinson, creating some wonderful chances which the visitors were unlucky not to convert.
Just before the break, Stacey McGookin received an excellent ball on the left, passing it in to set up Gillian Rennix whose well-timed shot made it all square.
Late in the second session a well-worked corner four minutes from time saw Leigh Snoddy put the ball in the net with an excellent strike making it 2-1.
Service pushed for the remainder of normal time and managed to convert one last penalty corner right at the death, forcing the tie into extra-time.
With neither side carving out chances of note, the prospect of penalty flicks loomed large.
A nailbiting climax to the game saw Larne convert all five flicks, taken by Zoe Purdy, Snoddy, Leah Craig, Finlay and Dalton.
Keeper Neill saved Service’s final attempt to book Larne a place in the Irish Trophy quarter-finals.
Larne: T. Neill, L. Snoddy, L. Craig, Rebecca Dalton, M. Finlay, G. Rennix, G. Russell, L. Robinson, Ruth Dalton (c), Z. Purdy, D. Henry, S. McGookin, T. Maguire.
Elsewhere, Larne II lost 1-0 at home to Grosvenor, while the club’s Thirds lost on the same scoreline away at Banbridge IV.
Mini Hockey, for primary school girls P1 to P6, returns on Saturday (February 22, 10 am to 11 am in Larne Town Park. There is a small charge of £2 a session and all equipment is provided. Junior coaching for P7 to Year 11 takes place on Wednesday evenings 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm at Larne High School pitch at £3 per session.