But as No. 4 seed Galena erased a two-goal deficit in the final 26 minutes of regulation, the Cougars hoped they would avoid a ‘Golden’ goal during a pair of 15-minute overtimes.
The overtimes also didn’t decide the game and the outcome went down to the dreaded shootout, one that went in favor of the hosts on the final kick.
After the two teams played to a 2-2 draw, Audrey Barham’s goal in the final attempt of the shootout gave the Cougars a 4-3 win in the PK’s, for the school’s first girls soccer playoff win.
“This is the first time in the playoffs where we have been better than the opposing team,” SSHS girls soccer coach Mike Faker said. “It’s somewhat disappointing that we lost a keeper and we had to go to a shootout. But it’s definitely nice to win that.”
On the same possession during the first overtime period, Spanish Springs hit the crossbar and then the right post with shots. On the ensuing corner kick, a Cougar shot hit the outside of the left side of the net, sending fans into a fervor. It was nowhere near the fervor that was caused when a Spanish Springs defender flew in for a kick save at the last second to prevent an empty net goal early in OT.
The second overtime saw less suspense, but Galena had a good shot with a minute left. The shot went right to goalkeeper Caitlyn Silva, setting up the shootout.
“I just didn’t think we needed to be in a shootout. I thought we gave up two silly goals,” Faker said. “And then in overtime we hit the post twice. It’s a good thing our PK shooters came through for us.”
Spanish Springs jumped on the fourth-seeded Grizzlies early. Barely 10 minutes into the game, junior forward Kiley Diesner took the ball up the right side of the field on a run. Diesner ripped a high shot that squirted through the Galena keeper’s hands and rolled into the back of the net for the initial 1-0 lead. Sam Ryckebosch was credited with the assist.
While there were a handful of runs on goal, most from Spanish Springs, the 1-0 score remained for the rest of the first half.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Alyssa Bertuleit lofted a high corner kick that found Ryckebosch’s head on the far post and the Cougars took a 2-0 lead with exactly 28 minutes on the clock.
The last seven minutes of the first half saw Galena finally control the ball more than its opponent, even though possession was still back and forth. After Spanish Springs went ahead 2-0, it was all Grizzlies.
Less than two minutes after falling down by the two-goal margin, Galena cut the deficit in half on a goal by Cassandra Burke in the 54th minute.
With about 11 minutes remaining in the game, Cougars fans had to hold their breath several times when Galena corners led to some close calls. SSHS goalkeeper Baylie Krutsinger had to make a tough save. An own goal almost tied the game and other crosses couldn’t find a foot.
But with 5:21 on the clock, Krutsinger went out for a save. She was in a vulnerable position and a Galena player collided with her, causing her to leave the game with a knee injury.
Silva replaced her between the posts and just needed to hold on for five more minutes. The Grizzlies weren’t about to take it easy on her.
Still, Silva was minutes away from sealing the victory. However, with just over two minutes remaining, Hannah Hinson had a free kick from 25 yards out and launched it toward goal. The shot sailed just under the crossbar and over the outstretched hand of Silva, tying the game at 2-2 with 2:12 on the clock, forcing overtime.
Spanish Springs (11-3-3) will take on Carson (14-1-2), a 3-0 winner over Reed, Thursday at Damonte Ranch. First kick is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“We’re playing on turf, so well have to go play on turf (in practice). We play a lot of through balls that end up being too fast on the turf. We have to settle down on the turf and play a little softer balls because they roll fast,” Faker said. “We matched up pretty well against Carson the first time.”