SECTION 2A GIRLS SOCCER: Coup de Grace
Tigers rally to stun Faribault in overtime as Gordon wins it
MARSHALL — The Marshall girls soccer team came into its Section 2A opener against Faribault with some history already made. They made sure to end it in similar fashion, with a pinch of dramatic flair.
After getting a goal in the second half to force a sudden death overtime, Marshall was nearly on the verge of going into a second extra period but had one final chance with a corner kick.
The ball worked its way towards the net and found the foot of sophomore midfielder Grace Gordon, who tipped it in with 22 seconds remaining to vault the No. 12 seeded Tigers past the No. 13 seeded Falcons 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Gordon said she knew she had to make a play on the ball with the goalie right behind her and was able to get some space and find an open part of the net.
“I knew that if I let it go through, the goalie was right behind me and I couldn’t let it go, so I turned my body the other way and I just tipped it with my foot and it went in,” Gordon said. “I don’t even remember what happened after that.”
In their first home playoff game in team history, Marshall had to rally from a halftime deficit and go toe-to-toe with the Falcons. Tigers coach Jesus Hernandez knew it was going to a challenge but was extremely proud of the way his group competed and never gave up.
“Looking at the stats, when you see Faribault not having many wins, you might think it’s an easy team but it’s actually not. I’ve had the opportunity to watch them play against some of their conference opponents and they are a tough team and are pretty level with us,” coach Hernandez said. “Although we didn’t have our best game, one thing that I would really point out is our girls never quit. They wanted this victory because we’re home and we’re making history; it is very exciting and rewarding for all of the work that we do with the girls.”
The high-scoring affair between the Tigers and Falcons was evident right from the opening minutes of the game, as five goals highlighted the first half alone. Marshall got on the board first, as Dayna Estrada found the back of the net in just the fourth minute to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. Not to be outdone, Faribault had an answer a few minutes later, with the Falcons scoring in the eighth minute to tie things up at a goal apiece.
Both sides continued to get quality chances on net throughout the majority of the half, before Faribault was able to strike again with 23:48 to go in the frame to take a 2-1 advantage. But the Tigers wouldn’t be denied, as they raced down the field and scored roughly a minute later, this time with Maddy VanKeulen booting it around some defenders and into the net to make it a 2-2 game.
As the opening half began to wind down, the Falcons got a corner kick opportunity, only to see Marshall goalkeeper Leah Legatt come up with a big save. Faribault continued to attack the net, though, and produced a quick goal in the process with six minutes to go in the half to take a 3-2 lead. The Tigers would have a pair of corner kick chances in the final minute, but couldn’t capitalize and found themselves trailing by a goal going into halftime.
Coach Hernandez said their key on offense, especially in the first half, was their mentality and how much they wanted to write their own story as a team.
“I think our mentality was strong and we really wanted it. We talked about it at practice and I told the girls ‘You hear a lot of stories out there about teams pulling things like this’ and that’s their story,” coach Hernandez said. “I told them, ‘Now it’s our time to write our own story’ and I think they came with that mentality.”
Defense rallies late
After an exciting first half, Marshall and Faribault entered the final half of regulation looking to gain some momentum early on. It would be the Tigers who got their chances to set a spark and had an excellent opportunity when they earned a penalty kick with 25:50 left.
Senior forward Lenei Estrada lined up for the shot and placed the ball just over the gloves of the Falcons goalie into the top half of the net, tying the score at 3-3 and breathing new life back into the Marshall sideline.
The veteran knew she had to step into that moment and come up with a big play for her team.
“I felt as a leader of our team, I should be the one to take that shot because I felt very confident in myself and I just lined it up and hit the net,” she said.
The goal forced both sides to change up their perspectives a little bit, as Faribault came out ready to go and kept the ball on its offensive side of the field for a long stretch. Marshall’s defense was prepared for the challenge, however, as the Tigers broke up every play that came their way in front of the net and kept things deadlocked at 3-3 and ultimately force overtime to set the stage for the late dramatics.
Good to be home
After going on the road in their playoff game a year ago, the Tigers were able to earn themselves a game on their home turf this season. Coach Hernandez said it was a great feeling for their team to be able to host a playoff game and felt his players deserved to have that experience.
“It’s amazing; as a coach, you always think about this moment and the girls really deserve to live something like this with them being the first group of varsity soccer players in town and also because we have worked really hard,” he said. “We push them sometimes really hard and almost to the limit and they know you have to keep going if you want to live more moments like this.
Marshall (5-8) advances to the next round and will face No. 5 Southwest Christian on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in Richfield.
Coach Hernandez said their biggest takeaway is to remain focused and strengthen their mindset throughout the entirety of the game.
“Just staying focused,” coach Hernandez said. “I know I talk about this a lot, but we do make some silly mistakes sometimes, so we need to get our mind on the game a little stronger.”