The Rolla girls soccer team (9-5, 5-0 OC) hosted Camdenton for an Ozark Conference matchup on Thursday, April 19. After Camdenton came back to tie the game in the final 10 minutes of regulation, Rolla was able to find the back of the net with 35 seconds left in overtime to pull out a 3-2 OT win.
After most of the overtime period ticked away, Rolla lined up for a final corner kick with 35 seconds left in the match. Elsa Wise fired a perfect kick arcing toward the goal, where it slipped through Camdenton keeper Amber Wilson's hands. The ball bounced off a mess of bodies into the net to lift Rolla to victory.
It was a tough way to go down, but Camdenton coach Chris Byington was proud of his team’s fight Thursday night.
“We’ve done that all year so it’s been nice. I was really proud of the team to hang in there because Rolla is a tough team,” Byington said of his team’s fight.
“You just have to give it to them. It is one little mistake and that is all it takes. We are going to keep our heads up and it is disappointing, but I’m happy that our girls got a taste of where we are at during the season and what we’ve done.”
Camdenton got on the board right off the bat. Rolla’s Ellie Rodgers was called for a hand ball just outside of the keeper zone in the second minute and Aeryn Kennedy quickly set up the free kick and buried a shot in the back of the net past an unprepared Kelly Cates to give Camdenton a 1-0 lead.
After that, Rolla controlled the pace of the game. The Lady Bulldogs tied the game in the 26th minute on a great throw-in play. Rodgers had a perfect throw in over the heads of the Camdenton defense, where Wise was able to get a foot on the ball. She tapped it over Wilson, where Eliana Stanislawski tapped it in for a goal.
The rest of the half was pretty quiet in the goal department, but it wasn't from a lack of chances. Rolla made run after run at the net, hitting the post and crossbar several times, but never scoring. That brought these two teams into the half all tied up at one.
The Lady Bulldogs came out firing in the second half. Rolla needed just two minutes to get on the board when Maddie Lucas found Mercedez Carpenter with a pass down the right sideline. Carpenter took the pass and ran with it, launching a shot in the upper right corner past Wilson's outstretched arms to give her team a 2-1 lead.
Rolla continued to control the pace of play throughout the second half, but Camdenton was able to break through with nine minutes left in regulation. The Lady Lakers sent a bouncing ball through the Rolla defense, where Cates was able to make the save. While she kept it out of the net, she wasn't able to keep her hands on it. That's when Cordelia Dallam came charging in for the rebound, knocking the ball in to tie the match at two and eventually send the game to overtime.
Letting their lead slip away, the Lady Bulldogs refused to let their win get away and secured the golden goal with 35 seconds left in the extra period on Wise’s big kick. Wise wasn't happy with how she played in the second half, so she had a sigh of relief when that ball found the net.
"I hit a few bad balls tonight, I was just off my game and I really needed that one to cross right in there and someone to put something on it to get it in the goal," she said after the game. "I was ecstatic, I don't think I've ever screamed so loud in my life. It was a big win for us."
This ended up being a pretty wild contest. Rolla controlled the pace of the game all night long, holding Camdenton to just five shots in the match, but the Lady Lakers kept taking advantage of any opportunity. For Rolla coach Mike Howard, who was honored for his 400th girls win before the game, a win is a win in the Ozark Conference. It doesn't matter how you get it.
"It is what it is. When you play Camdenton, they're always going to play really hard, especially against us,” Howard pointed out. “It's always a tough match for us. Our kids hung in there and figured out a way to get the win."
Although a loss is never fun, Byington said these games also serve as a good learning opportunity.
“We always talk about the mentality and how important that is. I’m really proud of the girls mentality-wise,” Byington said of his club’s determination. “We grinded it out and one of our goals was to win the tight games and these are games you have to learn through. But these are also the games you have to put into the perspective of, ‘Hey, this could be a district game.’
“We lost to a good team so we’ll learn through it and grow.”
At the same time, Camdenton will have to have a short memory because another Ozark Conference battle awaits them on Friday night when the Lakers host rival Lebanon and next Tuesday is another conference clash at Parkview.
“We play Lebanon tomorrow so there is no time to ponder on this. You wake up tomorrow and it is a brand new day and you forget,” Byington remarked Thursday night. “I think it is good to sit on it tonight, reflect and think what you need to better the next game, but it is also brand new day tomorrow and there is another conference game.
“Our conference is not easy so it is not going to come easy, but give it to Rolla They fought hard, they capitalized on their opportunities and we just came up short tonight.”
The Lady Bulldogs had a quick turnaround to cap off a busy week. They made the trip to Southern Boone on Friday, but results were not available at press time. Rolla will return to the Ozark Conference next week when they host Lebanon on Tuesday, April 24.