PARKER — After seeing how well its defense had played all season, the Holy Family girls soccer team knew it might only need one goal to get past 10th-seeded Ponderosa in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.
But against Ponderosa’s comparably stingy defense, the big questions for 23rd-seeded Holy Family became: Where would that elusive goal come from, and when?
As expected, the defense was there. Unfortunately for Holy Family, that goal never came.
Debuting in the postseason in its first season in Class 4A, Holy Family fell 1-0 in double overtime to Ponderosa.
“It was a good game,” Holy Family senior Hannah Disberger said. “Both teams did their parts and it was back and forth the whole game. But for us it was a big struggle because our whole midfield is out playing hurt. We were just throwing girls in there and people did step up. Of course, we didn’t come up with the result we wanted but it was a great season.”
The sixth-place finisher from the 5A/4A Continental League, Ponderosa (9-6-1) allowed just 21 goals during the regular season, even while facing some of the state’s most quality 5A competition. Holy Family (9-7), the 4A Tri-Valley League runner-up, allowed just 12 goals before Wednesday and all nine of the team’s wins had come by way of a shutout.
Through the first half of Wednesday’s tournament opener, neither team provided much indication that a goal was forthcoming. Playing under a steady drizzle, neither team put a shot on frame in the first 20 minutes. At halftime, Holy Family and Ponderosa had combined to take just six shots. Just three of those shots, all from Holy Family players, were on goal.
“I think we were the better team, we just didn’t put the ball in the back of the net,” Holy Family head coach George Connolly said. “My girls have played great all year and one of these days we’ve got to get a little bit of luck. That’s been my feeling for the past five years. The ball never seems to bounce our way. But Ponderosa is a good team and there’s no shame in losing to them in the playoffs.
“We were hoping we’d get that first one and the way we play defense, we felt like we could have shut them out. It just didn’t happen.”
After halftime, the feeling of uncertainty that dominated the first half of play turned to urgency for both teams.
Holy Family sophomore forward Katelyn Caviness hit the right post from five feet away in the 47th minute. Four minutes later, a hard shot from Ponderosa’s Jordan Bryant squeaked through Holy Family goalkeeper Maggie Spitzer’s gloves and bounced off the crossbar. Bryant’s follow-up shot sailed over the goal.
In the 63rd minute, Ponderosa keeper Brianna Collins tipped a shot over the crossbar after it was fired from 35 yards out Holy Family defender Shannon Langfield.
It wasn’t until the 98th minute that Ponderosa freshman Jensen Ellis fired a shot that tipped off Spitzer’s fingertips and into the net for a sudden victory goal.
“That was a heck of a shot,” Connolly said. “And Maggie thought she tipped it over the top of the goal. I feel bad for Maggie but she played great and made a bunch of really nice plays. We hit the post, they hit the post, it was just a back-and-forth game and they came out on top.”
Spitzer, who will play at Johns Hopkins next season, finished the game with five saves.
Holy Family, which has only allowed only two goals in its past eight contests, turned things around to make the postseason after opening the season with an 0-3 record. Holy Family finished 0-3 in overtime games this season.
Ponderosa will play the winner from Wednesday’s late game between 26th-seed Centaurus (8-6-1) or seventh-seed Valor Christian (12-1-2) in the second round.
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Ponderosa 1, Holy Family 0 (2OT)
At Sports Authority Stadium
Holy Family (9-7) 0 0 0 0 — 0
Ponderosa (9-6-1) 0 0 0 1 — 1
Goals (assists) — Ponderosa: Jensen Ellis (unassisted), 98th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Holy Family: Maggie Spitzer (98-1-5); Ponderosa: Brianna Collins (98-0-6).