Last-minute goal lifts Galena past Douglas
October 23, 2017
For 79 minutes on Saturday, the Douglas Tigers and Galena Grizzlies locked up in a scoreless duel between Sierra League girls soccer front-runners in Minden.
In that 80th and final minute, however, junior midfielder Ellie Sundali produced a goal that lifted Galena to a 1-0 victory over the Tigers on an ideal autumn morning at Keith Roman Field.
Even though the game's outcome had no impact on the league standings — Galena (14-0-1 league, 19-0-1 overall) and Douglas (10-2-3, 15-2-3) were already locked into the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds for the playoffs — this was a matchup between teams that could possibly meet again at least one more time this season.
"We'll see you in the finals, ladies," Douglas coach Rick Smith said when the two teams exchanged greetings at midfield after the final whistle.
The Tigers' first-year head coach isn't making any guarantees about the Northern 4A Region Tournament, mind you, but there is a distinct possibility these two teams could meet in the Northern 4A Region Tournament championship game on Nov. 4 at Spanish Springs High School.
"There are other good teams … Reno, McQueen and Spanish Springs are all going to be tough to beat," Smith pointed out. "You've got to play every game and win every game."
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Those words were echoed by Galena coach Annie Di Loreto, whose squad edged past the Tigers 2-1 on Oct. 3 in Reno.
"We've still got to get through," said Di Loreto, whose Grizzlies lost 1-0 to Douglas in the 2014 region finals. "But, yes, we could see each other again. They're a fantastic team, a very talented team that came out with a very good plan today."
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the second half. Douglas goalkeeper Jordan Smith had a nice save in the 48th minute when she reached up to bat away a long shot headed to the far post and had another save in the 63rd minute. Later, Douglas defender Claire Ingrey blocked a shot and cleared the ball out of the box and Devi Schwartz broke up a potential shot in the final two minutes. Madi Smalley played well on the backline throughout the game, Smith acknowledged.
The Tigers had back-to-back opportunities of their own in the final five minutes. Peri Buck's shot was wide right and then Alexa Moss was denied a shot in the box when Galena goalkeeper Ana Gotchy came out to smother the ball. Gotchy was credited with 13 saves on the day.
The Grizzlies ended the stalemate in the final minute when Sundali pushed the ball along the Galena sideline and lined a shot to the left corner of the net for her first goal of the season.
Despite the final score, Smith wasn't disappointed with the Tigers' performance.
"I couldn't have asked for any more of the them," he said. "They played smart, with a lot of energy and positiveness and took away all the things they like to do. We just had one lapse and they made us pay for it."
Note: McQueen (12-2-1) has the High Desert League title wrapped up coming into the final regular season games on Tuesday, while Spanish Springs and Reno are tied for second-place (both 9-3-3). Douglas hosts the third-place finisher in the first round of the region playoffs on Monday.