It was about as close to a buzzer beater as you can get in soccer.
Highland senior forward Brianna Hatch blasted a shot to the far, upper right corner of the net with 6.4 seconds left in double overtime to clinch a 1-0 win over Desert Vista in the Division I state championship.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s the best feeling I’ve ever had. It’s insane. To score the winning goal as a senior, words can’t describe how insane it is. I was like, ‘Clock doesn’t matter, this is going in,'” Hatch said. “I had the ball at my feet as I was taking the (goalie) on. I was like, ‘Oh the shot is open.’ I saw the net and I just put it in there.”
Highland forward Tori Rinsem received the ball near the outside of the penalty box with about 10 seconds left. She played it outside to Hatch in stride, and Hatch was able to finish.
“I had the ball at my feet and I knew the seconds were winding down. I just saw her open,” Rinsem said. “I played it to her and I knew she was going to score. I just saw it hit the back of the net and I ran towards her. I knew we won state.”
Highland head coach Andy Barber said it was the craziest finish he’s ever been a part of.
“I’ve unfortunately been on the losing side of that a couple of times also, so to be on the winning side of that is absolutely phenomenal,” Barber said. “The message all year has been working at it until the opportunity is there.”
The score was 0-0 at the end of regulation, but both teams managed several clear scoring chances. With 20 minutes left in the game, Desert Vista nearly got the goal it so desperately needed. However, Highland goalkeeper Amanda Witherow was able to deflect the bouncing header over the crossbar at the last second.
With under two minutes to go, Highland had a shot from point-blank range saved by Desert Vista goalkeeper Alexa Ryder.
Highland dominated most of the second half and overtime, but the pace of play slowed down significantly as time went on. It wasn’t until the final spark at the end of double overtime that the team was able to capitalize. Desert Vista head coach Marvin Hypolite said he would have rather lost in penalty kicks than to lose the way he did.
“We gave up a mistake with no time left on the clock. It’s not like we could have come back from it,” Hypolite said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my team. Yes, it hurts. It does hurt, and the manner in which we lost; we didn’t have an opportunity to capitalize again or equalize.”
Barber said he preached to his team to continue to the pace of play in overtime. It all came together in the 100th minute of play.
“To never give up like that and to be able to finish it off finally like that, it’s just a testament to the work of this team,” Barber said.
Photos: High school girls soccer state tournament 2015
Highland players douse coach Andy Barber after their 1-0 overtime win against Desert Vista in their Division I girls soccer championship Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 in Gilbert.