Swanton and Archbold finished tied at 2-2 back in the regular season matchup in August, and were knotted up for a majority of the first half in this one and nearly the final 34 minutes of play. But then Swanton got a goal from Megan Haselman 55 seconds into overtime, earning the 2-1 victory over the Blue Streaks in a Division III girls soccer sectional final at Ruihley Park Thursday.
According to Swanton coach Kendra Gustafson, the Bulldogs were playing not just to win, but for pride.
“My high school coach reached out to me, even my college coach did. Seeing how everything’s going. My high school coach is like, ‘I hope they understand the legacy of girls soccer here,’” explained Gustafson. “Swanton girls soccer has always been a very good program for the most part. So I let them know like, ‘you’re not just trying to win for us and our team, and your parents and the friends and family over there, this is for every girl that’s ever played Swanton soccer.
“I was like, ‘so give everything you have, all 11 work together up and down and side-to-side. We will get it, it will be our game. And we are a good team, so we got to show it.’ They did everything, and more, that I could have asked for.”
Archbold yet again could not overcome the Bulldogs, this time suffering a crushing loss in overtime.
“I don’t really know what to say. I’m kind of blown away,” said assistant coach Jennifer Kidder. “Obviously that goal was good. But, oh man, I’m kind of blown away. That’s the second time we’ve been the better team and we didn’t win.
“I’m disappointed for our girls, because, it’s fine to lose when you don’t deserve to win, but we did deserve to win today. Good luck to Swanton. I mean I hope they can make it far. They scored the goal that mattered today.”
That winning goal came off the foot of Haselman, as Swanton executed the play they wanted at the beginning of the 15-minute extra session, scoring at the 14:05 mark.
“Obviously we started with the ball from the kickoff, and I just wanted them to stay high, I didn’t want us to give them (Archbold) much space to work with,” Gustafson said. “We were able to connect it and our passing to the feet was obviously one thing I kept yelling — to make sure we pass to our feet. We were just able to give it off and get it out to the outside to cross it in and Megan was able to finish it for us.”
Both teams had their share of chances in the contest.
For the Streaks, Leah McQuade rolled one towards the net at the 34:14 mark of the first half that was saved by Swanton goalkeeper Keagan Young.
On the Swanton side, Alexia Ostrander’s free kick from approximately 30 yards away was corralled by Maddie Short at the 33:11 mark.
The Dogs were able to strike first with less than 10 minutes to go in the first half.
Alaina Pelland got to the ball played deep behind the defense, scoring past the Blue Streak goalkeeper who wandered too far from the net, putting Swanton on top 1-0 with 9:41 left until halftime.
In the second half the Streaks were much more aggressive, and their persistence eventually paid off. They were able to tie it with just under 33 minutes remaining as McQuade crossed one from right-to-left that Sophie Rupp finished, making it a 1-1 game.
Later, Carlee Meyer received a pass from McQuade but her shot with 18:12 to go caromed off the crossbar and was no good.
“We definitely had control,” said Kidder of Archbold’s second half success. “We made passes, we had great runs, quality shots and just didn’t find the back of the net.”
Swanton could have grabbed the lead in regulation with a penalty kick opportunity with 8:07 remaining. Pelland attempted the shot and chose to target the left side of the net, however, she pushed it a little too far.
But it did not come back to haunt the Dogs in the end.
“I’ve been there before with a PK opportunity and missing it, and it’s hard,” admitted the Bulldog coach. “I was just like, ‘you got to go forward, we have more opportunities; we’ve had so many more opportunities, this is not over.’ And you know, I feel like a lot of our energy runs off of our captains and even our seniors. So I’m like, ‘you guys got to keep going, don’t stop, it’s not over until that last goal.’ Right away that’s what they did.”
Swanton moves on to the district to be held at Genoa next week. They will face Ottawa Hills in the second district semifinal on Tuesday starting at approximately 7:15 p.m.
Swanton was defeated 4-3 by the Green Bears in a match held Aug. 20.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.