CONTINENTAL – It was windy. It was wet. Nobody wanted overtime. Stuck in a tied game thanks to a Continental penalty kick, Swanton senior Bridget Harlett made sure the hour trip back to Swanton was a happy one, as the Bulldogs came out with a 2-1 win in a Division III girls soccer sectional final Saturday afternoon.
“It was very cool,” Swanton coach Jim Dickman said of the win.
The Pirates served as the hosts thanks to being seeded third against the fifth-seeded Bulldogs.
“Definitely underseeded,” Dickman added about his team. “We’ve played all the big teams.”
Harlett’s game-winning goal didn’t start as much. Playing on the attack, she turned to face the net from the left side and saw an opening. Keeping the ball low to avoid the swirling 40 mile per hour wind howling around all game, her shot just hugged the inside of the post and found the back of the net for the game-winner with 10 minutes to go.
“She’s the one I rely on to come through in the clutch,” Dickman said of the senior. “She did it today again.”
Swanton stayed on the attack and nearly added a third goal. Keeper Frankie Nelson – who had an array of saves – including a punch out of a ball headed for the crossbar, kept Continental out of the net in their final chance.
Aricka Lutz gave Swanton a 1-0 lead when she scored from 30-plus yards out off a free kick just eight minutes and 40 seconds into the game. The Bulldogs were content with winning 1-0, and held the lead until a Continental penalty kick tied the game with 28:36 left to play.
“That was huge,” Dickman said of jumping in front early. “We had the momentum. We didn’t know what was going to go on with the weather. We were going to get some rain and we knew the wind was going to be terrible.”
The Bulldogs return to the district, which will be held Wednesday at Napoleon.
“For a lot of these kids – I start five freshmen, they’ve never been there,” Dickman said of the district tournament. “Last year we went and lost to Archbold. For these young ones (players), it’ll be a chance of a lifetime.”
Swanton takes on Liberty Center in the first game at 5 p.m. Evergreen and Archbold play in the nightcap.
Reach Randy Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org