Author: Ryan Whalen
The Occidental women’s soccer team (4–4 overall, 2–4 SCIAC) has grown accustomed to playing extra minutes. For the third time this season, the Tigers pushed a game into overtime after trading goals with Cal Lutheran on Saturday. The game went down to the final minute, when Regals forward Kali Youngdahl broke free from the Tiger defense and floated a shot just over the reach of Occidental goalkeeper Dallas Gunny (first-year) to score the golden goal.
The showdown between the Tigers and the Regals started as a defensive stalemate, as both teams struggled to find an opening around the net. However, Occidental was able to take control of the match in the 33rd minute when Julie Khil (sophomore) corralled first-year teammate Alana Hillman’s deflected shot attempt and found the back of the net.
“I think by scoring first it really brought up the energy and intensity on the team,” Khil said via email. “It clearly showed when we were pressing hard to a lot of balls and constantly adding pressure, holding them off for the rest of the half.”
After Khil’s go-ahead goal, the Tigers and Regals traded shots back and forth as both attempted to find a rhythm offensively. After 40 minutes, Cal Lutheran appeared to find their stride. The Regals were able to gash the Occidental defense, tying up the game in the 75th minute. Cal Lutheran followed up their game-tying goal with another well-placed shot in the 78th minute, putting the Regals up 2–1.
As the clock wound down, Occidental head coach Colm McFeely subbed out midfielder Molly Callans (first-year) for forward Hillman in order to put another attacker on the field. McFeely’s gamble paid off just a few minutes after the substitution, as Hillman took a pass from Michaela Tsuha (junior) and drilled the back of the net to even up the score 2–2 in the 86th minute.
“Everything just kind of fell into place,” Hillman said. “Going in, I had the mindset to score, and once I had the ball that was the only thing I could focus on.”
A majority of Occidental’s defensive success was thanks to Gunny, who collected eight saves throughout the night. While it will only be recorded as another save, Gunny also had one of the most important plays of the night, blocking a Regal penalty kick in the final minute of regulation with an acrobatic dive to preserve the tie and push the game into overtime.
“I had a feeling she was going to go to my left, and after looking at her body positioning I knew she was going left,” Gunny said. “She ended up going [left] and I made a huge save, and that was just a really, really good feeling.”
Unfortunately, play was stopped for 45 minutes between the end of regulation and overtime as a Cal Lutheran player was attended to by medical personnel.
Despite the delay and some signs of fatigue, both teams came back out on the field firing. However, neither team was able to find the elusive golden goal, as both defenses picked up their physicality. A scoreless first overtime set the stage for a dramatic second overtime finish.
With only moments left on the clock, Gunny tried to clear the ball downfield off of a goal kick. Cal Lutheran was able to win the aerial battle and headed the ball back to the Tiger’s side of the field. Another header acted as the final pass to Youngdahl, who was able to slip through the Occidental defense and seal the game 3–2 in the Regal’s favor with a well-placed strike in the final minute of play.
“We take each game on its own merit and Redlands will be another tough game,” McFeely said. “We have done pretty well against them recently and will look to continue that by playing a strong and consistent 90 minutes.”
The Tigers will look to bounce back in their match against Redlands tonight at 7 p.m. on Patterson Field.
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