TIGERS NEED EXTRA TIME TO WIN
By Pat Perkins
Observer Staff Writer
Chelsea Long wanted the pressure, but this kind of pressure?
The La Grande Tigers had finished regulation of their girls soccer state playoff game Tuesday against the North Valley Knights tied 1-1. After two, 10-minute periods, nobody had scored. After five players had taken their shots in a shootout, neither team had an advantage.
But in the sudden-death shootout, North Valley goalkeeper Karyn Allen kicked a ball that hit the side bar and went wide.
A goal by Long would win the game.
I knew that I could do it. I believed in myself, Long said.
Her shot went past Allen and into the back of the net, ending a wild game and triggering a wild celebration.
La Grande (12-1-2) advances to play Marist in a quarterfinal game Saturday in Eugene.
Long is one of La Grandes designated players for penalty kicks, and the shootout was like the one between the United States and China in the 1999 Womens World Cup.
This time, Long was like Brandi Chastain, although in Tuesdays bitter cold, the shirt stayed on.
Every time I practice my penalty kicks I imagine myself in that situation, Long said.
All the pressure was on Chelsea Long, La Grande coach Alex Steenstra said. Chelseas been saying all week long, I love pressure. You just cant ask for any more.
Long wasnt bothered by the shootout, but La Grande goalkeeper Amber Rasmussen was.
I was really nervous. I was shaking, Rasmussen said.
In the shootout, Rasmussen only touched one shot, but that was the last of the five given to both teams. The shootout was tied 3-3 after four shots each when La Grandes Shalece Hibbert took a shot that hit the bar and bounced out.
North Valleys Galina Vial took a shot that Rasmussen gobbled up, forcing sudden-death.
Earlier in the game, Rasmussen gave up her first goal since a Sept. 8 loss to Philomath. North Valley forward Malloree Enoch dribbled along the baseline and sent her shot past Rasmussen to tie the game.
Enoch caused La Grande problems all game with her speed and ball control.
It was hard to handle her, Steenstra said. It took three or four of us and she still got through and scored that goal.
We tried to play zone defense on her, but she just wouldnt slow down.
Late in the game, Steenstra assigned defender Amanda Schuft to play Enoch. He told her, You dont leave her alone; you stick with her.
That worked and kept Enoch in check, although she still got a few breakaways that required other defenders to close in and clear away the ball.
La Grande got its goal one minute into the game. Lindsey Carmichaels pass to Nicole Lewis was converted into a 1-0 lead.
Sometimes an early goal can be a blessing and an early advantage, Steenstra said. If we get ahead we dont want to take excess risk.
So La Grande held back offensively, which kept the Tigers from taking advantage of several scoring opportunities in the first half.
North Valley got its legs in the second half, and almost won the game in the final minute. Enoch took a free kick from the top of the box, but Rasmussen deflected it out of bounds. The Knights corner kick was cleared seconds before the whistle blew.
Enoch had another free kick from the top of the box in the second overtime, but this one hit the crossbar and bounced away.