The St. James soccer team (10-6, 2-5 FRC) needed a big second half when they hosted Owensville on Monday, May 7. After letting a 3-1 halftime lead become a 6-5 loss to Mountain View-Liberty on Friday, the Lady Tigers trailed Owensville 3-0 a few minutes into the second half on Monday, before scoring four unanswered goals on their way to a 4-3 comeback win in overtime.
St. James didn't get off to the start they were hoping for on Monday night. After celebrating their seniors before the game, the Lady Tigers couldn't find a way to jump start their offense in the opening half. They found a couple of good looks and nearly got goals from Quinn Paulus, Kaylynn Crocker and Alyssa Rinehart, but they couldn't find the back of the net. Owensville, meanwhile, found a couple of holes in the St. James defense. The Dutchgirls were able to make long passes down the pitch and have their forwards run past the Lady Tiger defense for both of their first half goals, which came in the 26th minute and with 1:30 left in the half.
The Lady Tigers needed to make some adjustments, so they elected to move Crocker back to a more defensive role so she could run down the speedy Owensville forwards. After the Dutchgirls scored their third goal of the night early in the second half, St. James needed an offensive spark and they found it from an unexpected place.
Owensville attempted to clear the ball out of their zone early in the second half and Sam Bolte was there at the 30-yard line. Bolte reared back and launched a bomb, which went over the head of the keeper and gave St. James the jump start they needed, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
"We told her 'you have to get offensive, you've got to, you've got to start pushing them. We can not have that ball transitioning all the way back to the other end of the field, you've gotta cut it off,'" said assistant coach Beau Moreland of Bolte's goal. "You could tell it kinda pumped the girls up a little and they had a little momentum on their side."
The Lady Tigers nearly added to it with about seven minutes left in the game with a scoring chance from Paulus and Mikaela Donnelly, but the play was called dead due to an injury. An Owensville player collided with Ashlyn Rinehart and had to be taken out of the game on a stretcher. After a long stoppage of play, the two teams returned to action and St. James found their offensive groove.
St. James didn't have much time left, but Donnelly instantly got the offense going with a goal on a pass from Paulus with six minutes left to play. Then with about three minutes left to play, Paulus worked her way through the Owensville defense and buried a shot to tie the game at three. St. James made a few more runs, but couldn't score in regulation. Owensville nearly scored with about 50 seconds left with another run past the St. James defense. Unlike their attempts in the first half, the Lady Tigers had someone who could keep pace. Crocker was able to catch up, stop the run and kick the ball out to her forwards and make one last run at a goal. They didn't score, but St. James was able to force overtime.
The Lady Tigers then locked down the overtime period, as Paulus scored her second goal of the game about seven minutes into the overtime period, lifting her team to a 4-3 win on her Senior Night.
"It was the best storybook finish for a Senior Night, last home game of the season," said Moreland. "It was crazy."
Coach Moreland said St. James' loss to Mountain View-Liberty on Friday was a tough pill to swallow, but it provided the inspiration they needed to pull out their Senior Night win on Monday.
"Coach (Abbi Moreland) and I talked to the team at halftime and we said 'you're not the team that's going to lose to Owensville 3-0 two times in one year. You are a good team, go out there and compete. You just played Mountain View and let them come here and want it more than you did, is that how you want to go out on your Senior Night? Do you wanna let Owensville come in and do exactly what Mountain View did?" Coach Moreland continued, "We were hoping for that response and we got it."
The Lady Tigers have two regular season games left this season. They play North County on Thursday, before a rescheduled game with Dixon on Friday. After that, it's Districts against Osage on Monday, May 14. Coach Moreland hopes that Monday's win will help inspire a strong run down the home stretch.
"I would honestly say that if we end up going out and doing well at Districts, I would say this was the pivotal moment of the season that gave the girls the confidence booster to move forward and fight because they realize that they're capable of playing competitive games," said the St. James assistant coach.