ERIE — Erie’s bench came to its feet late in the waning minutes of regulation, as each near miss by the Tigers girls soccer team added to a frustration that had been growing by the moment in a match they commanded nearly everywhere except the scoreboard.
A break before overtime served as a little breather.
Then, it was Rylee MacLennan to the rescue.
The junior forward scored the walk-off goal in the 82nd minute to push Erie past Skyline 1-0 on Monday night.
As they had for much of regulation, the Tigers immediately pushed deep into the Falcons’ territory in extra time. Katie Leach didn’t get a clean touch on a chance that twisted in the air over to MacLennan. MacLennan corralled it on the left side of the box, took a jab step, then pushed past a defender before ripping the winner into the opposite corner of the net.
The golden goal handed Erie (6-1, 2-0 5A/4A Tri-Valley League) its sixth win in seven games, its best start since 2016. Players jumped around MacLennan in victory as an anxiety had been lifted after the Tigers spent the opening 80 minutes wondering what more they needed to do.
“We just kept pressing and pressing,” MacLennan said. “I think the most important thing is we did it as a team. We didn’t give up or let frustration take over us. That’s why when we went into overtime everyone was still pushing and everyone was ready to just get it done and put a goal in the back of the net.”
In a month’s time these uphill wins could serve important in Erie’s chase for a league crown and a solid postseason seed. Last week, the Tigers, who came in at 13th in the 4A RPI standings, had a nice comeback win over Loveland as coach Jeff Vigil said they needed two goals in the final 10 minutes to win 4-3.
In wrap, Vigil pressed his team with this point: “Good teams find ways to win.”
“We were resilient, (looking) for one of those to crack the seal, and we finally did,” Vigil said. “It’s a really good group of kids and I hope for them it continues. I believe you create your own luck by working hard and being good teammates. And sometimes that’s what you need in order to be victorious in the end.”
Skyline’s back line and keeper Grace Miller stood in the way for a long while. Miller had 12 saves, some in the spectacular variety.
Alison McNeal ripped perhaps the best chance of the night in the 74th. From the top corner of the box, her ball started straight before it twisted toward the left corner of the net. Miller sprung out to tip the shot just wide.
Before that, the senior forward had another pair of rips flick off Miller’s fingertips and sky over the crossbar. McKenna Harrington, tip-toeing along the end line, had another strong look when she pushed a shot off Miller and out to the right. And Madison Tallman took a feed inside the box late in the opening half and chipped a shot into the keeper’s grasp.
“It definitely was (frustrating),” McNeal said. “We had so many opportunities. But by the end, Rylee had a great finish and we ended with a 1-0 win. It was a great game.”
Skyline (1-5, 1-1) couldn’t put consecutive wins together for the first time this season. Hannah Levin had a couple nice chances in the second half but didn’t finish.
Despite the result, Falcons coach Luis Chavez praised his team’s effort.
“Honestly coming into the game, I didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted us to step up, step on the field, and put (out) a good fight,” Chavez said. “I was so proud of the fact we came out strong, came out organized, structured, fought for every ball, saved shots out of nowhere … I couldn’t be prouder of my girls with their effort.”
Skyline will host Roosevelt Wednesday, while Erie is at Berthoud.
Brent W. New: firstname.lastname@example.org and @brentwnew
Erie 1, Skyline 0 (OT)
At Erie HS
Skyline (1-5, 1-1) 0 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) —Skyline: No goals; Erie: MacLennan (Leach) 82nd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Skyline: Miller (82-1-12); Erie: Hatch (82-0-3).