Hawks hand Discoverers late loss
A goal early in the second overtime period denied Columbus High girls soccer its upset bid Thursday evening over Class A Lincoln Southwest.
Scoreless through regulation, the Discoverers were nine minutes away from taking the match to overtime when a centering attempt caromed off a Columbus defender into the left corner for what stood up as the game-winner in a 1-0 final.
Although the Silver Hawks enjoyed a distinct territorial and shot advantage, the Discoverers had turned away every opportunity up to that point. Goalkeeper Addison Heule was a big reason why. She finished with double-digit saves, many of the high-quality variety, especially late in the second half and through the first overtime.
However, the momentum she had built saving everything that came her way through 90 minutes stopped short of having an effect on a potential shootout when her defense made a costly mistake on the end line.
Southwest chased down a loose ball headed harmlessly out of bounds and tapped it past a Columbus defender attempting to shield the play rather than clear the ball from danger. That pass bounced into a trio of Columbus defenders and took just the right deflection to head to the left post.
Huele, closing to the opposite side, never had a chance.
The defeat meant a second-straight defeat for Columbus after Monday’s 3-0 loss to Kearney and dropped the Discoverers to 2-3 on the season.
In five games, they’ve played four overtimes and had one contest extend to a shootout.
“This is the toughest game we have all year, in terms of the regular season. If you get to state, it’s just like this,” coach Luis Pulido said. “This is a good indicator. We’re barely two weeks in, and we showed what we can do against a top-ranked team in Class A. That’s good for us to see what they’re capable of.”
Southwest returned all but 10 of the 59 goals it scored last season en route to its eighth straight trip to the state tournament. The Silver Hawks were beaten 3-1 in overtime by Omaha Marian but figured to be a Class A favorite this year because of all the returning talent.
Thus far, that’s been exactly the case.
Though Southwest came into the day 3-2, losses were to two other top-10 Class A teams in Millard North and Marian. Both were by a 1-0 final. The state rematch with Marian took overtime.
The Silver Hawks had also defeated Lincoln High 4-0 and Lincoln Pius X 1-0.
Columbus, on the other hand, lost a large chunk of its scoring and featured a roster not nearly as accomplished as Southwest.
For more than 90 minutes, none of that mattered.
The Discoverers clogged up passing lanes, cleared out balls in the box and had another solid effort in net from Huele.
But the most they could muster offensively was a misplayed ball that left Maddie Uhling in alone on goal racing to a loose ball. She arrived before the keeper but never got a shot off.
That missed opportunity proved to be critical when 80 minutes were up.
Southwest had three shots on goal in the first overtime then capitalized on Wells’ goal a minute into the second half of the extra period.
“If it was rolling out, great, but if it wasn’t rolling out, maybe we could have cleared it. Who knows,” Pulido said. “I’ll have to watch it on film. One of our players said it went off her leg, too, before it went in. Just kind of a lucky bounce.”
Although not perhaps a moral victory, Pulido believes the manner in which the game was played should give his group confidence it belongs with the best teams in Nebraska.
“Mentally, our girls came to play. That was a big difference with any of our other games. I think they showed what they’re capable of,” he said. “They need to understand they have a place with these kinds of teams in terms of how they’re playing and in terms of getting to state.
“I think previous years, this type of game wouldn’t have been this close.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.