Lady Cats top Salem, fall in OT to Heritage Hills
One way to calm nerves on the soccer field is to score an early goal.
North Harrison’s Lucy Robertson placed the ball just beyond the penalty area in front of Lady Cats’ keeper Abigail Byerley less than three minutes into the contest. With a big boot, Robertson sent the free kick up the middle of the field toward sister Natalie Robertson.
A few touches for Natalie and she netted a chip shot over Salem goalie Elise Tally.
‘Warming up was really intense because we started talking about if we lost, we’d be out of sectional,’ North Harrison’s Samantha Fell said. ‘It was relaxed once we got into the flow of the game. Once we got the first goal, it was good from there.’
North Harrison coach Jeff Butler spoke to his squad about playing ‘team ball.’
Following Robertson’s goal, the linking of passes set up additional goals.
Naomi Scott and Natalie Robertson used combination play to set up a Gabrielle Scott attempt on goal. The shot was saved. The trio came up with more possession play to nearly score.
It wasn’t until Naomi Scott used fancy footwork on the left side to get the ball to twin sister Gabrielle. Her shot was saved, but Naomi took a rebound attempt that was deflected by an illegal touch. The whistle sat the ball on the penalty spot, put away by Natalie Robertson for her second goal.
‘We looked for extra passes,’ Butler said. ‘We really worked on keeping the field spread, and I think this was probably our best games of the season. That’s what we have to do to be successful in sectional.’
Salem nearly cut the lead in half when Haley Motsinger had a shot ring the post in the 32nd minute.
Two minutes later, North Harrison built on its lead. Fell took advantage of a break and polished off a slick turn and fired a shot for a 3-0 lead.
‘I usually don’t score because I play defense,’ Fell said. ‘It gives me more confidence that I can score goals when up there.’
North Harrison’s back line was up to the task for slowing Salem, including defender Madison Nicolas closing down an attack from well off the ball in the 35th.
The Lady Lions did pick up a late first-half goal when Motsinger made a long run, freeing her to cut the ball back when one on one with Byerley to score.
North Harrison wasted no time after halftime to recoup the goal yielded before the break. Gabrielle Scott took a pair of shots that were denied, but Lynsey Butler used her back heel to tap in the goal.
‘To keep building after that first goal was good to see,’ coach Butler said. ‘We did give up the goal before half, but we recovered well at half. We didn’t want them to have too much momentum going into the second half. We came right out and got one back.’
Butler added he noticed his players were fired up to get sectional play underway.
‘It’s win or go home, and the girls were really intense tonight,’ he said. ‘Even though we are a young team, they have that intensity in them. That was our plan tonight, come out and be intense. The whole group, from back to front, played great.’
Heritage Hills 2,
North Harrison 1 (OT)
Moving to the semi-final, the Lady Cats took on a familiar foe in Heritage Hills. During the regular season, the teams met in early September, when North Harrison scored a pair of second-half goals to win 3-2.
In the postseason, the match was just as tight. This time around the Lady Patriots ended up on the winning side. They ended North Harrison’s season with a 2-1 overtime victory Thursday night.
A 1-all tie after 80 minutes sent the match to a pair of seven-minute overtime sessions. Neither team scored in the first OT, but the second saw Heritage Hills’ Kerragan Mulzer net the eventual game-winner with 6:34 remaining.
Heritage Hills moved on to the championship, where it knocked off Providence.
During regulation, North Harrison took the lead just before the half. Samantha Fell scored on a floater from about 20 yards out with 54.6 ticks on the clock.
Heritage Hills scored the equalizer from the penalty spot. Following a tackle in the box, Mulzer netted her first goal with 20:32 remaining in regulation.