ONALASKA — It figured that after 80 minutes, Toledo and Onalaska would be settled in a penalty shootout in a key C2BL matchup Monday night.
The rivals traded blows throughout regulation, with momentum going both ways until after a 1-1 tie at full time, the Loggers did enough in PKs to win, 2-1, on senior night.
“It’s one of the most amazing feelings ever to have played with all the other seniors on this team,” Loggers senior keeper Alex Cleveland-Barrera said. “I’m honestly speechless about it.”
Cleveland-Barrera saved one in the shootout, and saw the Riverhawks last shot sail off target, as the keeper ran to her teammates after a thrilling victory with huge league stakes. With the win, Onalaska is now second in league, and put themselves in good position to potentially hold on to that spot with Kalama left to play on Wednesday.
“This was a good win for us, we’re excited to get back in the saddle and we played really well tonight,” Loggers coach Christopher Van Clifford said. “Toledo is a tough team, they put that goal on us, we kept them in their half most of the time, but they're tough.”
The Loggers got out ahead first, after controlling possession for most of the first half, Brooklyn Sandridge found her way past the Riverhawk defense and put a great ball through the back of the net past Toledo’s Daphnie Bybee in the 35th minute.
But give Toledo an inch, and it’ll make the most of it nine times out of ten.
Early out of the second half, Briza Gallegos put a beautiful cross toward the far post, and Marina Smith slotted the shot in to tie the game in the 44th minute.
From there, Onalaska’s defense stiffened.
“I want to shout out my defensive line,” Cleveland-Barrera said. “Jaycee Talley is one of the best defenders I have seen and played with and all the defenders did amazing this game.”
For the rest of the second half, Cleveland-Barrera, Talley, and defenders Dylan Zigler, Joscelin Escalera and Kate Zandell all held off a potent Riverhawk attack.
“It really took guts,” Cleveland-Barrera, who finished with 10 saves, said. “I have expectations for everyone on the field and for my team, which they lived up to today. Everybody knew what they needed to do to prevent that goal from happening again.”
For the Riverhawks, it was a tale of fatigue, and momentum. Already bruised from a penalty shootout loss to Kalama last week, Toledo lost defender Heather Fenison late in the game and had a hard time getting back into a rhythm before PKs.
“We just have to keep moving forward, the next player has to step up,” Toledo coach Noel Vazquez said. “We’ve been playing shorthanded all season long with not a lot of experience off the bench, but we still have to go out there and compete. I gotta give the girls some credit, a lot of them don’t take any breaks.”
The Riverhawks struggled to keep possession most of the night, and aside from a goal early in the second half, weren’t playing with the same fire that the Loggers were on a big night at home.
“We came out flat in the first half, and even in the second half we didn’t look like ourselves,” Vazquez said. “When you play someone on senior night, it’s very tough to win.”
Toledo will hope that its south division rival, Kalama, can beat Onalaska in regulation on Wednesday. If the Chinooks prevail, the Riverhawks will take home the second seed in the district tournament and will host a playoff game this season. If the Loggers can tack on another win over the league leaders, they’ll be the second seed.
Toledo has just one scheduled game left this week against Toutle Lake, while the Loggers try to beat the Chinooks for the first time this season. To do that, they’ll need to string together more passes like they had Monday.
“We did a lot of passing, which is amazing for our team, that’s how we got our goal,” Cleveland-Barrera said. “Kalama is a passing team. If we work the ball away from their best players, we just need to be on our passing most of the game and then follow up on our shots.”
Those matchups will both take place Wednesday, before the district playoffs begin next Monday.