It was The Ultimate Goal Night at Granville on Thursday, raising funds for breast cancer research.
The Blue Aces’ Chloe Kent might not have scored the ultimate goal, but it was one that saved their unbeaten season and Licking County League title hopes.
Kent used some nifty dribbling to get in position for the tying score, a straight-on shot from about 20 yards out with 14:19 left that enabled Granville to tie determined Watkins Memorial 1-1.
“It was scary. We had not been in that position (trailing) yet,” said Kent, as the top-ranked team in Division II (8-0-1, 3-0-1) absorbed the first blemish on its record. “We really seemed to surge after that and really wanted it, but we need to start faster with intensity from the get-go.”
A couple minutes earlier, goalie Madi Moore stopped Nikki Cox’s penalty kick. With about 10 minutes to go, Moore leaped to bat away another Cox attempt as she turned in a brilliant night in goal for the Warriors (7-2-1, 4-0-1).
“Our defense did a good job all night standing her up, and not letting her get completely turned,” said Moore, who had 10 saves. “We play so well together that we know what each other is going to do.”
“Big players step up in big games, and we need her (Moore) to do that,” Watkins coach Alex Stout said.
Amberly Knox hit a 35-yard direct kick just off the outstretched fingertips of goalie Tori Long and into the net early on for Watkins, which seemed to be the aggressors in the first half. The Warriors almost took a 2-0 lead early in the second half, but Sam Newman’s shot hit the crossbar and bounded above the goal. Long had six saves.
“They thought we were going to sit back, but that’s not us,” Stout said. “We decided that we would go right at them with our forwards and keep the ball on the ground, come out with intensity and heart. Our forwards and center-mids work very well together.”
“I knew they (Watkins) would bring their A-plus game,” said Granville assistant coach Rick Semer, filling in for head coach Scott Forster who was at the hospital as his wife was to deliver their first child. “This was their season, trying to win the league and beat the No. 1 team. We showed character by tying the game and were just inches away from winning. It was a great learning experience.”