WESTMINSTER – Shot after shot, after shot … after shot — for the better part of 100 minutes, Legacy forward Gracie Armstrong’s barrage at the net came up empty.
A near miss high here, a deflection just wide there, when the senior finally got one to go in the last-possible seconds of a scoreless game Wednesday evening, she merely smirked as her teammates came rushing to mob her.
“She’s going to go home and be frustrated tonight,” Lightning coach Luke Meadows chuckled after his team beat Fossil Ridge 1-0 at North Stadium. “Forget the goal, she’s going to be frustrated with the 12 she missed.”
The winner came 39 seconds from a draw as a frustrated Armstrong hurried a short corner to Miranda Sanchez, who gave it right back, setting up a rocket blast from left of the box that slashed through the defense and bounced between the legs of Fossil Ridge goalie Vicky Graham.
“A typical player, if they take 12 shots in a game and they get one they’re going to be thrilled to death, especially if it’s the winner in overtime, 10 seconds left, whatever,” Meadows said. “She has such a high standard for herself that at times it’s tough for herself to keep up with it. … Her bar is so, so high.”
Legacy’s is climbing, too.
The Lightning (10-2, 7-2 Front Range League) leapfrogged the Sabercats (8-2-2, 6-2-2) in the league standings and should pass them in the playoff race. Before the game, both teams had a Class 5A RPI score of .595 with Fossil Ridge ranked 11th and Legacy 12th.
Next up for the Lightning, a game against lowly Greeley West (1-11, 0-9) on Monday before ending the season with Rocky Mountain (11-1-1, 9-1) and Broomfield (10-0-1, 9-0-1).
“This one was really important (to win) because we haven’t had any real big wins yet,” Armstrong said. “This was a big win for us.”
Armstrong, the team’s dubbed “quarterback,” played the role of facilitator more than scorer to start the game, feathering passes through tight lanes and into open space. All to no reward.
Her own scoring chances were just as impressive, yet just off the mark. Slippery moves off defenders set up her looks in the 36th and 46th minutes, but they went up and over the crossbar. Graham, who was rock solid, denied a few others.
“It was frustrating,” Armstrong said.
Then in the final minutes of regulation, Makayla Merlo headed a chance just over the bar in the 72nd, and Armstrong rocketed a chance from 29 yards out that was deflected just wide in the 76th.
Fossil Ridge countered with a chance with 63 seconds remaining, forcing a diving save from backup goalie Katie Dunbabin.
The junior has filled in nicely since starter Makenna Gottschalk went down with mononucleosis earlier this month, says her coach. While the team is hoping Gottschalk can return soon, they’re more than comfortable with Dunbabin.
“I think (Makenna) will be coming back soon,” said Dunbabin, who had six saves. “Makenna is a great goalie, but of course I’d be up to the challenge.”
Both teams have been reeling from injuries and Fossil Ridge might have lost a few more bodies late Thursday – both Ava Hause and Rachel Boyle left in overtime with apparent leg injuries.
From scoreless game to war of attrition, Armstrong finally put home a winner.
“My legs were really tired,” Armstrong said, “and I was like ‘I want to get this game over with.'”
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Legacy 1, Fossil Ridge 0 (2 OT)
At North Stadium
Goals (assists) —Legacy: Gracie Armstrong (Miranda Sanchez) 99th.