With the sun deep and orange near the horizon and opportunity fading almost as quickly, Western’s girls soccer team responded in the best possible way.
Spurred by a renewed sense of urgency, Western scored twice in the second overtime to take a 4-2 victory at Northwestern in a rivalry game that mattered to both in the Mid-Indiana Conference standings.
“I liked the way that we came out with fire and we wanted it so bad,” Western coach Nicole Jackson said of the overtime session. “We’ve lost to Northwestern pretty close these last couple years and my seniors wanted it really bad. We wanted to get this overtime in before it got dark or before it stormed again.”
The game was delayed 35 minutes due to a thunderclap in the area less than two minutes into the start of the first overtime session.
Western improved to 7-3 overall and 4-1 in the Mid-Indiana Conference. The Panthers knotted the game up late in the second half to end regulation 2-2. When the delay hit early in overtime, both teams came out a little sluggish. Western got up to game speed more quickly.
The first seven-minute overtime session didn’t have any genuine threats on goal, but the second started with a bang as Western’s Courtney Pitzer forced a save and Sarah Connolly saw a good opportunity slide wide of the right post.
The breakthrough came in the 90th minute, with just four minutes left in the game. Panther freshman midfielder Emma Harbaugh set Abby Webster free on the right side. Webster’s hard low shot to the far post was saved by Tiger netminder Chloe Redman but the rebound fell invitingly to Connolly to score at close range.
“We play a little scared traditionally against Northwestern,” Jackson said. “I think we try to play defense more than we do offense. And I think once they realized that first seven-minute overtime was done and they had to finish it off, they wanted it.”