The Pacers don’t lead until the final minute of overtime against McDaniel.
Eighth-ranked Lakeridge got pushed into overtime by No. 25 McDaniel in its Class 6A state playoff opener, eventually scoring with 44 seconds to go in the second half of overtime to beat the Mountain Lions 3-2 at Lakeridge High School on Saturday, Oct. 29.
“It was very scary,” said Lakeridge sophomore midfielder Alexis Gonzalez, who scored twice in the win, including the game-winner. “Those last-minute nerves, you’re hoping to score a goal and sometimes it just comes out your way. It was just excitement all around.”
“There were a lot of nerves, but I think we did a good job coming back and getting the goals,” added junior forward Elisa Damori, who scored once and assisted on Gonzalez’ game-winning score.
With the win, the Pacers snapped a one-game losing streak and improved to 10-3-2 overall after finishing fourth in the Three Rivers League. McDaniel, meanwhile, saw its one-game winning streak snapped and ended its year at 8-5-2 after placing fourth in the Portland Interscholastic League.
Next up, Lakeridge will host No. 9 Cleveland (9-3-3 overall after placing second in the PIL) — a 1-0 winner over No. 24 South Eugene in its playoff opener — in the second round of the state playoffs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2.
While Lakeridge controlled possession early, McDaniel began to find its footing midway through Saturday’s opening half, then shocked the Pacers by scoring the game’s first goal with 5 minutes, 49 seconds to go in the half.
The scoring play started when Mountain Lion junior forward Anika Schramm played a through ball to freshman midfielder Nailani Solomon at the top of the Pacers’ penalty box, and when Lakeridge senior keeper Cami McCormack came out of goal to challenge, Solomon took a touch to her right and scored in the corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
The Pacers hardly blinked, however, coming back to tie the game 1-1 just 18 seconds later. After Lakeridge pushed the ball upfield following the ensuing kickoff, Gonzalez controlled the ball near the top of the McDaniel penalty box, turned and struck a low shot to the left side of the Mountain Lions’ goal that glanced off the hands of goalkeeper Lucy Shields and bounced past the end line to score.
Solomon very nearly put her team ahead 30 seconds later when she hit a shot off the right post of the Pacers’ goal, but McCormack fell on the ball and smothered it before McDaniel players could get a follow shot and the two teams went into the half tied 1-1.
That’s where the score remained for the first 25 minutes of the second half, too, but the Mountain Lions re-took the lead with 14:09 to play. There, junior Maleigha Canaday-Elliott took a 24-yard free kick that glanced off the Pacer wall and went into the left corner of the goal to give McDaniel a 2-1 lead.
Again, however, Lakeridge proved its ability to come back, tying the contest 2-2 when freshman defender Claire Egusa sent the ball into the McDaniel penalty box and Damori finished it with 7:55 left in the half.
“Claire came in with the cross and I was just open in the box,” Damori said. “I had to jump up for it and the keeper got a little touch on it, but thankfully, not enough.”
Neither team scored in the first half of the 20-minute overtime period — the Pacers misfired on three shots but didn’t allow McDaniel a chance in the first 10 minutes — and it looked like that result would repeat itself in the second half.
But Lakeridge made sure this game did not go to penalty kicks. With just 44 seconds remaining in the second half of overtime, Damori crossed the ball into the McDaniel penalty box from the right side of the field and Gonzalez ran onto it and scored to seal her team’s 3-2 win.
“All season, we’ve been working on just coming out with a bang,” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes when that doesn’t happen, we have to come out again. (The goal) was definitely the biggest of my high school career.”
“She was wide open in the box and I had confidence in her that she could score and she did,” Damori said. “That was amazing.”