After nearly 100 minutes of soccer in the opening round of the state 4A playoffs, the game – and Garner’s season – came to a stunning conclusion Wednesday night.
Southern Alamance’s Casey Raggett’s arching shot from the left side with 38.4 seconds remaining found the back of the net and lifted Southern to a 3-2 victory over Garner.
“I was just asking someone what happened,” Garner coach Joe Dennis said. “It happened so fast and was on the far side. We let up a little bit. We thought we could run the clock out and we didn’t keep defending. She took a good shot and put it where our goaltender couldn’t get it and it ended up being the game-winner.”
The goal capped a hard-fought contest that saw both teams turn up the offense in the final 15 minutes of the second half. After a scoreless first half, it was still 0-0 as the second half wound down.
Garner (12-7) got on the board first when senior Michaela Wycoff took a pass from Grace Bondurant and left-footed the shot into the right corner with 13:00 left in regulation.
Southern Alamance (14-5-1) came back a minute later when freshman Caroline Causey scored on an assist by Raggett to tie it at 1-1.
Southern took the lead with 5:06 left when Causey took a through pass from Madison Moore and raced past the defense to beat the Garner keeper and make it 2-1.
Garner tied it less than 30 seconds later when Wycoff sent a penalty kick into the back of the net. The kick came after Bondurant was taken down on a foul in the box.
“We knew that time was running down and it was time to start playing, to start connecting passes,” Dennis said. “They did the same thing when they created their goals. It was an exciting last of couple of minutes.”
Southern Alamance coach Andrew Carroll said his team stuck to its game plan and eventually the goals started coming.
“Control what we can control,” Carroll said. “Play hard, pass and stick to what we know. The girls are dedicated. They have had some ups and downs but we prepared ourselves for a close game.
“We took care of what we needed and we’ll play again in a couple of days and still just focus on what we need to do – play hard, shoot hard and mark.”
For Garner, the tough loss will be a motivator next season for a team that returns numerous key players.
“We have a lot of people coming back,” Dennis said. “We have two seniors graduating. We told them to remember the feeling when we start offseason training, use the hurt that they have now to motivate them next season. Most of them will be back.”