Palmer Ridge star Emily Nguyen had everything she wanted. Sarah Miller had fed her a precisely placed pass in front of the Lewis-Palmer goal.
It was all there. Nguyen, a senior, has been hoping and plotting to defeat L-P for the past four seasons.
“I got this,” Nguyen said to herself as she prepared to shoot. “This is perfect. This is the opportunity.”
She pounded a point-blank shot.
And hit the post.
“That was very disappointing,” Nguyen said a few minutes after a 1-1 double-overtime tie with Lewis-Palmer. “Sometimes you get unlucky.”
It was a highly dramatic night for both teams, but especially for Nguyen, who will play for D-1 Belmont next season. She walked off the field after a superb performance, but she still hasn’t defeated L-P.
The windy night was filled, start to finish, with tension, but especially in the final sequence.
With two minutes left in regulation, it looked as if L-P would win this Battle of Monument. The Rangers had taken a 1-0 lead on a left-footed goal by Adrianna Cook in the first half, and acrobatic goalkeeping by Kaity Hovasse denied multiple chances by Palmer Ridge.
A rocket shot by Lily Matalus with 17 minutes left was stopped by Hovasse. With 2:43 left, Hovasse just managed to bump a shot by Miller over the post.
But with 1:57 left, Nguyen fooled Hovasse with a slight fake to the right and then used her left foot to place the ball in the back of the net.
Then, she almost followed that goal with another to deliver victory in overtime.
Coach Nick Odil said he felt both lucky and unlucky. He almost went home with a loss, and then he came just as close to going home with a win.
“L-P is a great team, but we wanted that win tonight,” he said. “I’m proud of the girls for competing and battling.”
Battling is the right word. The game featured aggressive defense, with bodies falling all night, but never veered into cheap shots.
Lewis-Palmer is 6-4-2, but the record is deceptive. The Rangers have lost three one-goal games. Palmer Ridge is 7-2-2, and highly ambitious.
Nguyen was philosophical about her near miss. She almost conquered a team she badly wants to conquer. She came achingly close – a few inches at most – to scoring the game winner.
But she might get one last chance.
“Maybe we’ll meet them in the playoffs,” she said.