The Ironwood Ridge girls soccer team may have just won a tough battle, but may end up losing the war.
In a thrilling double-overtime, penalty-kick decision, the Nighthawks defeated the Mountain View Mountain Lions 3-2 on Friday. The win gave the Nighthawks (4-0, 16-3-1) the 5A Southern Region championship over the visiting Mountain Lions (4-1, 14-4-1).
"We've won the conference championship two years in a row," said Ridge coach Sean Watkins. "But they will still have more power points than us."
Penalty kicks decided it after the second overtime. The Nighthawks didn't miss, scoring on all four of theirs, with Michelle Busse, Kaitlyn Lopez, Liz Fritz and Elise Reader all finding the net. Adriana Ortiz was the only Mountain Lion to score against goalkeeper Brooke Seavitt.
"A win is a win and I'll take it," said Nighthawk Camie Barbera. "We practice our penalty kicks regularly. Brooke Seavitt, Lopez, Fritz all played good."
"Liz Fritz stepped up in the shootout and made the first kick," Watkins said, "after she missed the penalty kick earlier." On that opportunity, Fritz missed a free kick over the bar.
"We expected them to come in hard," Fritz said. "I wanted to win in regulation. We got a lot of opportunities."
This was certainly like a heavyweight battle that could've been won by either team at any point.
"It could've been a state championship," said Mountain View coach Rick Ellis. "A good effort for both teams. We didn't execute on the first goal of overtime, but I'm glad about how our players fought back."
The Nighthawks looked ready to celebrate with a 1-0 lead and less than six minutes to go, before the Mountain Lions' Justene Kesterson nailed a shot with an assist from Ortiz to tie it at 1-1 with 5:31 left.
"It was the best game," said Ortiz, who was limping afterwards. "Our team played their hearts out."
The Nighthawks had scored the game's first goal on a header by Claire Buser in the 30th minute. She was set up on a good pass from Camie Barbera.
In the overtime, the Mountain Lions took a 2-1 lead in the 82nd minute when Ortiz scored on an assist from Kesterson. With the first of two 10-minute overtimes ready to expire in four seconds, Michelle Busse tied it again. Barbera assisted on the goal.
Earlier in regulation, Busse had a breakaway opportunity, needing only to beat goalkeeper Christine Posvistak, but Posvistak made the save.
"We had our chances, but one team has to win," Ortiz said. "Unfortunately, it wasn't our night."
Watkins admitted that the game probably should've ended in a tie.
"They were fantastic," Watkins said. "It was a battle. When I met the girls, I told them it was a fair situation. Penalty kicks were probably the way to decide it."