Neither Green Hope girls soccer coach Stacy Lamb nor her Hoggard counterpart Justin Schatz would dispute that for much of Friday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A fourth round contest, the host Falcons were the better team.
But as it goes sometimes in the sport of soccer, it all about the breaks, and those went the Vikings way late as they ousted previously unbeaten Green Hope, 2-1, after prevailing on penalty kicks, 4-2.
Olivia Voogt scored the game-clinching goal during the penalty-kick round for Hoggard (22-2-1), which advances to the 4A East final for the third time in four years and will meet the winner of Saturday’s game between Middle Creek and Cardinal Gibbons on Tuesday.
“I’ll be honest, Green Hope pounded us, and for about 50 minutes they were the better team,” Schatz said. “They’re probably the best team in the state and one of the best teams in the nation and we knew that coming in and we respected that. ... But we have heart and fight and desire, and we have 27 girls that scrap everyday at practice and every game. They weren’t going to give up today.”
The two teams played to a 1-all tie after regulation, Green Hope (23-1) forcing overtime on a remarkable 35-yard shot by Taylor Cammarata that just snuck inside the left post past goalie Blair Barefoot with 3:56 remaining in the second half.
Green Hope had numerous chances in overtime to grab the lead, the best of those when Grace Wagner’s shot from about 30 yards out caromed off the crossbar with about seven minutes remaining in the second 10-minute overtime period, but Hoggard held steady to force penalty kicks.
Hoggard and Green Hope traded successful conversions in the penalty-kick round until Green Hope’s Izzy Brown’s shot caromed off the right post on the Falcon’s third attempt, keeping Hoggard up 3-2 in the round.
However, Jess Bennion followed with a shot that went high on the fourth attempt, giving Green Hope a chance to tie. Barefoot, though, responded with maybe her best save of the night, making a kick save with her left foot on a shot by the Falcons’ Catherine Holbrook. Moments later, Voogt stepped up and won it for Hoggard when she easily beat goalie Lily Dunn with a shot into the upper left of the net.
Barefoot made 23 saves, looking more like a senior than the sophomore she is, and that didn’t even count the huge save she made in the penalty-kick round.
“It was a quick reaction,” said Barefoot of the kick save she made on Holbrook’s shot. “I was just so happy, I knew after that if we made one we were going to the final four. ... I knew I had to make that save and I did.”
Hoggard struck first when Siara Southerland took a pass from Bennion, beat a Green Hope defender and fired a 12-yard shot past Dunn for a 1-0 lead with 22 minutes, 20 seconds to go in the first half.
The rest of the first half was relatively even. The second half was a different story.
Green Hope was relentless offensively, spending nearly the entirety of the second half, and overtime for that matter, in the attacking third. It finally paid off when Cammarata scored on her lengthy shot to knot the score at 1.
Unfortunately for Green Hope, it couldn’t get another goal, producing a disappointing ending to an otherwise fine season.
“I’m proud of our girls,” Lamb said. “This one will sting for a little while, I thought we dominated both overtime periods, I thought we dominated the second half, we hit the crossbar. ... We did everything right, but that’s soccer. That’s why it’s a beautiful game. Twenty-three and one, you know that’s a great season, but definitely we weren’t ready for it to end tonight.”