Alli Peterson said she wasn’t really thinking about scoring the game-winning goal after 99 minutes of soccer, but when she turned and shot from about 25 yards out on the right side, the ball flew into the net and West had a 2-1 double-overtime victory over City High.
“It’s always nice to beat City,” West forward Danielle Craig said. “You never know what’s going to happen in these games.”
“I watched City for about 15 minutes against Prairie earlier, and you could tell they are a completely different program,” West coach Dave Rosenthal said. “They’ve got heart; they’ve got passion; they’ve got athleticism; they’ve got skill.
“I told the girls before the game, this is an incredible team that you’re going to face. You’re going to face a lot against this team, and they saw it all. I’m a big fan of girls high school soccer, and City High girls soccer is back, and it’s good for us and it’s good for them.”
West is 6-3 overall and 5-2 in the MVC. City is 7-5 overall and 5-4 in the MVC.
The game looked like it was destined for a shootout with just 75 seconds left in the second overtime. Both teams were tired from all the minutes and from the unusual spring heat.
Peterson, who played most of the game in the midfield and took and delivered some good hits, still had one big boot in her leg.
“We’ve been working on shooting a ton this week,” Peterson said. “My coach has been telling me to follow through, follow through on the shot and place it to the goal. So that’s what I concentrated on.”
“No. 22 (Peterson) is a really good player, and she can take shots whenever and wherever she wants,” City freshman Ashley Smith said. “It was just a great shot. She took one person on, beat her out and it was left post lower hit. It was just a great shot.”
Rosenthal said assistant Ryan Stewart called the goal on the bench.
“He said, ‘The ball’s coming to this side for Alli; Alli’s going to turn see the land and shoot the ball,'” Rosenthal said. “That’s exactly what she did. We had a great angle on it. She picked the right shooting lane.”
“Both teams were fatigued,” City coach Sara Bleeker said. “They had played 100 minutes. It just came down to who was ready to give it their all for just a little bit longer. It’s all about guts.”
City scored first on a rebound that Smith finished with 22:39 still left in the first half. There was some confusion about how the play started but not how it finished.
“It all started with Maddie Schroder,” Bleeker said. “She had a beautiful through ball across the field. A few more girls got touches on the ball than I thought. I thought there would be a shot right away. But eventually we got it in, and that’s something we’ve been working on. We needed to work on making sure we all crashed the net and continued to shoot after that first shot didn’t go in.”
“It was a cross from Molly Powell-Littler from the left side to the far back post,” Smith said. “I just moved around the back defender and stayed onsides and got it with my left foot right in. It bounced off a girl and went right off the keeper and went right in.”
“It was a rebound,” Rosenthal said of City’s goal. “We sometimes lose track of our back post. That’s something we need to work on.”
West didn’t even the score until Craig’s goal with 26:19 left in regulation. The goal came after Anna Hausler headed the ball in the box, and Craig was on the spot to clean it up.
“I’ve been waiting all year for this,” Craig said. “I’ve been struggling. It felt good to get that. I’m pretty sure I got the rebound. I saw the ball and just kicked it.”
Craig hadn’t scored except in a penalty kick situation this season, as she returned to soccer after not having played as a freshman.
City struggled to put any pressure on West in the second half as the Women of Troy outshot the Little Hawks 10-4. West is deeper on the bench and has more experience, but both teams suffered in the unaccustomed heat.
“I think everyone was fatiguing,” Smith said.
City’s girls teams have not always been competitive in this game over the last few seasons, but the times may be changing as Rosenthal suggested.
“They came out and played hard,” Peterson said. “They’re a whole new team, and you can tell they’ve put a ton of work in. It was a challenge for us.”
“I think it sets really good expectations for next year,” Smith said. “The feeling of losing sucks, but I know with this team and everyone coming in next year I know we’ll get them.”
“I’m absolutely proud of this team,” Bleeker said. “Even before today’s game. They’ve come so far this season in so many different ways: as a team family, skills, fitness, combinations. They gave a lot of heart and there was a lot of emotion in the game. They’ll continue to do good things this season.”