‘Third time’s a charm’
STOCKTON – They finally did it. After three years of trying and back-to-back disheartening defeats, Forest Lake Christian’s girls soccer team took a dramatic detour from the routine to break through the glass ceiling Saturday and win the Division VI Sac-Joaquin Section Championship, beating Bradshaw Christian 6-4 after two overtimes and a shootout.
The two teams were tied 2-2 through regulation before adding a goal each in the first overtime and then going scoreless in the second.
In the breakneck heat of Stockton’s weather, the girls were tired and ready to go to a shootout, even though Bradshaw Christian had just won a shootout in their playoff opener against Golden Sierra.
“I was mentally preparing for the last five minutes of the game because we knew we were going to kicks,” said Logan Burke, who scored the final goal of the shootout. “I was tired and my feet were hot.”
Falcons keeper Morghan Pomeroy energized her team by blocking the Pride’s first attempt – a shot by Jessica Gregory who scored two goals in the game including one in the first overtime – sending the rest of the Falcons and their fans into a frenzy over seemingly being ahead early.
Senior Katie Shore, taking the first shot in the shootout for FLC, found the back of the net easily against Pride goalie Jilzy Christensen.
The two events were equally demoralizing for Bradshaw Christian and uplifting for the Falcons.
“You never want to end up in penalty kicks,” said FLC coach Alane Burke. “I felt like every minute was just a cliffhanger. Knowing that they just beat Golden Sierra in penalty kicks, that they had just taken them. But I just felt good about the goals we took. Morghan’s save, that first save, was key to our mental composure and confidence. That just kept us going.”
Bradshaw Christian’s Megan Burg sailed the next kick over Pomeroy’s head and Katelyn Seitz followed with another goal for FLC.
The Pride missed their third straight attempt before the Falcons missed their first, with Burke finishing up the day for FLC by scoring the game’s last goal and giving the Falcons the championship after three hours of competition.
The Falcons and their fans converged on the field in a celebration that was much deserved for a team that had five ties this season and which broke away from two years coming up short in the section championship.
“It really means a lot to us actually,” said forward Katelyn Seitz, a sophomore. “You know, give them a hug after and tell them ‘this is for you.’ “
Said Alane Burke: “Every year you want to win it for your seniors and this year we got to do it … Not one person has won this game for us.”
FLC did its part in the game, adjusting its defensive style after losing defender Alaura Woody to a leg injury. Woody had played in the first half but with her loss the Falcons converted back to a 4-4-2 strategy in order to keep the Pride’s swift forwards from scoring easily. It was a tall task for defenders Jordan England, Katie Shore and Elyse Vierra as well as Pomeroy.
The Falcons scored the game’s first goal in the first minute, a ricochet goal for Shore who played forward in the first half. It was her third ricochet goal in three playoff games. But Bradshaw Christian’s Gregory scored six minutes later on a breakaway to put pressure back on the Falcons.
The Pride finally found itself in favorable condition following the first half, scoring in the 42nd minute to take a 2-1 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Falcons to reclaim some of their shock, with a goal in the 46th minute by Aine Ormiston. Ormiston didn’t appear to be taking a shot on goal, kicking the ball in the general direction of the Pride’s box, but with enough force and luck tagged goalie Christensen in the hands hard enough for her to bobble the ball and let it pass for a tie score.
Neither team could respond with energy to the up-and-down nature of the game leading into the first overtime.
Bradshaw Christian’s Gregory almost ended the game in the first overtime, scoring on another breakaway in the first minute. But as the period wore on, FLC kept pressure on the Pride’s defenders and goalie. In penalty time of the overtime, a Falcon was fouled in the penalty box, setting up a penalty kick by Jessica Raskin, who scored easily past Christensen.
Both teams were running on fumes in the second overtime, with no bite in the second overtime. That set up an extremely tense situation for the players, but especially Pomeroy.
“That was extensively stressful and nerve-racking but I just made sure to stay composed and did what my coaches have taught me to do,” Pomeroy said. “Luckily they kicked over (the post). I mean, the one that was in was a great shot. There was no way I could get to it. So props to that girl but I’m so glad that we won. It’s amazing.”
In the end there was nothing but joy from all of the Falcons and a lot of relief.
“It’s so big (for our school),” Seitz said. “We wanted this for so long. This is the third time – third time’s a charm – and we just wanted our names on that banner. It’s good to prove it to a lot of people too.
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