Washington knocked out on late goal

Published 1:40 pm Friday, May 12, 2017

Time was running out on Washington’s soccer season. The winners four-time winners of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference were on their heels as Durham School of the Arts rode out a one-goal lead in an eventual 2-1 win.

That was until Mackenzie Seiler came up with a turnover and streaked down the right wing. She ended up drawing a corner kick, which Maddie Brodie belted to the far post. She found a wide open Sydney Edwards — one of the smallest players on the field — who leapt up and headed the ball past the visiting goalkeeper.

“We were ecstatic. I thought we were going to get five good chances in the second half, and we needed to put at least two in,” coach Ed Rodriguez said. “We almost did. … She had, in my opinion, the best season of any girl I’ve ever coached here.”

Edwards’ goal tied the game at 1-1 with 13 minutes left to play. Durham had struck first in the 20th minute and, thanks to dominant possession, was able to cling to the marginal lead. Edwards had other plans. She is Lady Pack’s leading scorer and possesses of the second-most single season goals in program history.

The deadlock didn’t last long. The Lady Bulldogs found the back of the net less than 10 minutes later when Emma Brown scored for the second time. Nona Borden drew first blood when she punished Washington’s defense for a failed clear.

The Lady Pack had to make some structural changes for the game. Once everyone was settled in, the possession battle became much more even. The girls nearly drew even at the very end of the first half. Anna Frisbie bolted down the right wing and centered a pass to freshman Alyssa Villegas, but her shot was saved.

Durham nearly doubled its advantage 15 minutes into the second half. A forward got in behind the Lady Pack defense. Julissa Perez was burned when she came out to play the ball, but Claire Shepherd hustled back to save the ball from going into the open net.

Even though Perez nearly conceded that dagger, it was her work in net that kept Washington in the game throughout. Early on, she punched a ball heading to the top-right corner to keep the game scoreless. She had numerous saves throughout the game, but Borden — a 40-plus-goal scorer — was able to break through.

“She has done so well in her second year ever playing goalie,” Rodriguez said. “She has improved so much since last year. She plays her heart out. It shows on the field. … She’s willing to do her part to keep us in the game.”

The elimination marked the end of the road for Edwards and fellow senior Vanessa Celis. Next season will be a world of change for the Lady Pack. A strong contingent of rising seniors like captains Jordan Prescott and Brodie will lead Washington as it enters a new conference.