Girls Soccer: Wingers beat PEM in OT, advance to second round
The beginning of the playoffs means the season hangs on the outcome of every game. And on Tuesday, Red Wing played like it.
Less than five minutes into the Section 1A first-round match between the Wingers and Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Red Wing's Matea Simonson scored. And for the next 20 minutes, the Wingers had chance after chance after chance to put the Bulldogs away.
But PEM dodged every bullet for 55 minutes, then equalized the score and would force two overtime periods before Elayna Meyer poked in the game-winner with 6:15 left until a shootout would have decided a game that, really, had kind of been decided by shots even closer than a penalty.
“I was just trying to push up when I could. I was just so happy it got past the goalie,” Meyer said minutes after securing a 2-1 victory and a chance to upset top-seeded Byron on Thursday. “Honestly, we got lucky. But it was really nice. Really nice.”
Lucky would not describe how the Wingers got through. The game had chance after chance, from both teams. Gabrielle Magill hit a post in the second half, Nadine Marty had a couple shots go just wide that could have made it a three-score game in the first half. There was the pass, just off the mark, late in the second after the Bulldogs goalie had raced after a ball near the sideline. Two Red Wing forwards were open with nothing between them and the goal.
But despite all the missed chances, Wingers head coach David Thurston has to like what he has seen from a team learning a new system, and coming into the tournament on a roll.
“That's how we should be playing,” Thurston said. “We came out strong, did everything we should, we were quick on the attack, the backs were pushing up and reacting quickly. As the (first) half went on, we got tired and I think I subbed too many at one time and killed the bond they had.”
After PEM nearly tied the game several times over the final 10 minutes of the first, the Wingers came out in the second like they had to start the game.
But nothing found the net. And when the Bulldogs got a corner kick, a weapon for PEM, with 6:30 to play, the visitors converted on a scrum a couple yards out from Winger goalie Paige Harlow. There were accusations of a hand ball, but the goal stood.
The two teams traded chances through the first overtime, but Red Wing finally ended it on a perfect play that sprung Meyer.
With positive showings against Austin and Rochester Mayo to close the regular season, and a third-straight first-round win in the playoffs, the eighth-seeded Wingers are ready for their chance to knock off the Bears on Thursday and avenge a 3-0 loss in the second game of the season.
“We got it,” Simonson said.