OLA falls to Sacred Heart in sudden death shootout 1-0
By Joseph W. Gex, II
Feb 1, 2013, 18:41
It was tough to see ahead of you on Tuesday night at the St. Augustine Seminary soccer field that Our Lady Academy calls home. Yes, it was very foggy that night but other hindrances were causing eye problems. For one, there were a lot of tears flowing and heads hanging. That was in large part due to the fact that the Sacred Heart Lady Crusaders had just defeated the Crescents 1-0 in a sudden death shootout for the right to go to the Class1A/2A/3A state finals. It was also the first victory for Sacred Heart over the Crescents.
It was a packed field on both sides of midfield. Sacred Heart traveled well and the community came out in full support of the Crescents (16-5-2) as they were the last area team still alive in the state playoffs. In fact, it seemed to be a galvanizing event for the mid-winter sport as players, students, parents and fans of not only OLA but also Bay High, Hancock, Pass Christian and St. Stanislaus were members of the standing room only crowd.
The spectators certainly got their price of admission back and then some. The fans were treated to a game that will go down as one of the greatest games of all time in South Mississippi and, perhaps, the state.
The stage was set – OLA, a perennial state title contender and Sacred Heart, newcomer to deep runs in the state playoffs.
The first half was a scoreless 40 minutes of physical play. In the second half, Tiffany Jones of OLA lit the scoreboard with a goal with roughly 12 minutes to play. However, Sacred Heart didn’t bow to the queens of soccer in Mississippi. Instead, they fought back and ripped the net with a goal of their own about 90 seconds later. In the process, the lone OLA senior Savannah Lacoste was injured in a collision with a Sacred Heart forward.
Lacoste, however, remained in the game and made a couple of key saves that forced the game to two 10-minute overtime periods.
But, freshman Victoria Powers took the field as goalie for OLA to start the extra frames. Powers performed admirably stopping three one-on-one opportunities and taking charge in the box.
The two 10-minute overtime periods ended with a 1-1 tie.
The two teams then entered sudden death overtime. Both teams, again, held each other scoreless for two five-minute overtime periods. Now, up until this point the two teams had played 110 minutes of soccer.
The squads then lined up for a shootout with five shooters each. Haley Hughes missed Sacred Heart’s first shot while Tricia Williams converted for OLA. Alex Hammett missed for Sacred Heart as did Maggie Kowalski for OLA. Lillian Rowell converted for Sacred Heart as did Jones for OLA. Sarah McClain ripped the net for Sacred Heart and so did Sarah Rimmer for OLA. Gabrielle Craig nailed the fifth shot for Sacred Heart and Alex Kowalski missed her opportunity.
With each team converting on three shots and missing twice, the shootout went to a sudden death shootout. Sarah Beth Hyde converted for Sacred Heart and so did Georgia Williams for OLA. Brooke Haddad, a left-footed shooter, ripped the net for OLA but Laura Taylor missed giving Sacred Heart the 1-0 decision after 110 minutes of physical play and seven shooters deep into a shootout.
OLA head coach Andie Thornton commented, “To me, OLA is a champion and will always be a champion. Our girls gave their all and I could not ask for more from them. We deserved to win the game but it just did not fall in our favor. That was a very well played game by both squads. We had some depth issues due to injury and I am not making any excuses because all our girls played their hearts out. We have no reason to hang our heads.”
Thornton ended, “We will be back next season even stronger. We have a young team as we lose just one senior. Savannah Lacoste has been a real asset to this team and she will be difficult to replace. However, Victoria Powers stepped in and proved that she can play at a high level as a freshman in goal. I am so very proud of our girls and this just gives us more fire for next season.”
OLA and Sacred Heart each took the decision to the limit. Unfortunately, it came down to just one kick. The loss by OLA means that for the first time in 14 years there will be a different team representing the South in the state finals. Let that sink in a bit and reflect on this about Mississippi’s first girls’ soccer team. The Crescents have made 23 consecutive appearances in the state soccer playoffs. OLA has won 21 division titles in the last 23 years. They have won 15 South State titles and claimed 10 state championships.