With two of the top 4A soccer teams in the state located less than eight miles away, it was no surprise Hoggard and Laney’s rematch from earlier this spring came down to the wire in Buctown on Thursday night.
The back-and-forth affair had fans on the edge of their seats through extra time as the teams ended in a 1-1 draw after 100 minutes of action.
Coming off a scoreless tie on April 5, the Vikings and Bucs were able to find the back of the net this time around, but as the final buzzer sounded not much was decided other than the confidence each team continues to build moving into the playoffs in May.
“We’re a good side and they’re a very good side,” said Hoggard Coach Justin Schatz. “They have some strong seniors and younger players who are stepping it up. We’re not quite 100 percent yet health wise, but our girls are working hard and get better every game. We’re optimistic about where we are and where we’re going.”
Laney moved to 9-0-2 in conference and 15-1-3 overall. Hoggard is now 8-0-2 in the division and 13-1-6 on the spring.
Prior to the match, eight seniors were recognized for Laney in their final regular season home match and it was a pair of those fourth year student-athletes who connected on the equalizer in the 77th minute to send the match into overtime.
With the Vikings in front 1-0 after Karen Juarez sent a left-footed strike into the upper 90 just inside the near post in the 26th minute, Hoggard’s back line remained organized and strong until the midway point of the second half.
“We just had to keep our heads up,” said Laney senior Baley Edwards. “We knew we still had plenty of time. At halftime we talked about the seniors and the underclassmen wanted to come out hard to get us a win. We started to get confidence and think it was overall a really good game.”
The Bucs started to gain tempo in the midfield and used a foul call in the 67th minute to seize momentum. A shot by senior Alex Butorovich from just outside the 18-yard line rang off the left post, while Haley Shand nearly dropped in a strike from distance one minute later as Hoggard goal keeper Hannah Wagner was pulled off the end line. The late flurry continued for Laney as Butorovich found Parker Ormsby on a header, but the shot flew just over the cross bar.
As Laney stayed relentless on the attack, Butorovich took Laney’s third corner kick of the match in the waning minutes of the second half and sent the service towards the far post. Somehow Edwards was able to sift her way through traffic for the header into the back of the net.
“A little upset on our defending on the set piece,” Schatz said. “I think the opportunities that have come against us, we’ve given away a silly foul or a corner. We will clean some of that up and I think when we do, we can be a pretty dangerous team.”
There were limited opportunities in the two 10-minute extra sessions with the exception of one golden opportunity by Juarez. With the clock winding down, the sophomore midfielder hit a low strike off the left post and the ball stayed just outside the end line as time expired in the first overtime period.
Prior to the goal allowed by Hoggard, the Vikings did not concede a goal in 13 straight matches dating back to March 12. The defensive play by Avery Hilbert, Tara Poteat, Sara Grace Guthrie and Rebekah Fry has been outstanding all season for Hoggard.
Laney has countered with equally impressive play by college-bound seniors Sydney Young and Anna Rae Porcelli, along with defenders Sabine Felix, Briley Eason and Sallie Riggan.
“I see us going pretty far in the playoffs,” Edwards added. “We need to keep working, practicing hard and play together as a team. We’re really close. We bond really well together so we’ll see what happens, but hoping for the best.”
With just one week to go in the regular season, both teams are primed for a run through the state tournament. There would be no surprise if these two quality teams see each other again with a potential bid to a regional or state championship on the line.