Lady Pirates battle Libby until the bitter end
POLSON — The Lady Pirates had their first conference victory in more than two years yanked away from them in the final seconds in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Libby.
At home Thursday, the Lady Pirates scored two early goals in their conference opener, but watched the state’s top scorer erase their early lead and lift the Loggers to victory in the final minute of regulation.
Sarah Devlin got the Lady Pirates on the board early, scoring her third goal of the season in the 10th minute on a pass by Jordan Hinshaw. Brynn Rowley scored on an unassisted goal three minutes later.
Lady Logger striker Jamie Gilden, who was coming off a five-goal game in Bigfork, scored in the 25th minute and Polson went into the break with a 2-1 lead.
The majority of the second half was played right in front of the Libby goalkeeper with the Lady Pirates relentlessly attacking the net, but missing on their opportunities.
The Lady Loggers couldn’t sustain any offense, but relied on Gilden’s speed for breakaway chances. Gilden, who lead’s all Class A girls with 11 goals, finally broke away from Katie Finley, who was starting her first game as a defender, in the 68th minute and put the ball in the lower-left corner past a diving Jacie Morrison to tie the game. It was only the Lady Loggers’ fourth shot in the half.
In the final minute, Gilden crossed the ball to Ashley Shaw right in front of a goal and Shaw knocked the ball home to steal a win away from the Lady Pirates, who had the better chances in the game.
“Of course it’s frustrating. To be up at half 2-1. This team has never been up on Libby at the half,” Polson coach Michael Hewston said. “You know they played good soccer. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out in your favor. I can’t speak to that.”
With Hewston on the sideline yelling to his team to get an insurance goal in the second half, Lady Pirate midfielder Reegan Von Wildenradt kept setting up the Polson attack, but their shots just could find a home.
With 29 minutes to play, Devlin set up Rowley with a cross, but her shot went off the post. Less than two minutes later, Devlin headed a corner kick just over the goal. With less than 15 minutes to play, Kendra Poole’s shot went past the goalkeeper, but there was a defender at the goalline to clear the ball. Devlin just couldn’t get a foot on a rebound in front of an open net at the 10:50 mark.
With about three minutes to play and the score tied at 2, a soft shot by Hinshaw just floated to the right of the goal, Devlin dove for it trying to get a head on it, but just missed her chance by an inch, pounding her fist on the ground in frustration afterwards.
“I think we moved the ball well, we just missed some obvious shots we should have made,” Hewston said.
The Lady Pirates outshot the Lady Loggers 13-to-7.
The near misses couldn’t diminish what the Lady Pirates accomplished Thursday.
“This Libby team dismantled Polson last year and I think the fact that we ran with them for 80 minutes and played what I thought to be the best game of soccer I’ve seen this team play,” Hewston said. “And the best part about it is that we’re seeing this great soccer even at the beginning of year instead of at the end of the year.”
A disappointed Lady Pirate team couldn’t fight back the tears after the gut-wrenching loss.
“They expected to win,” Hewston said. “They played amazing. They played amazing.”
Libby 1 2 – 3
Polson 2 0– 2
P - Sarah Devlin (assist Jordan Hinshaw), 10:00
P - Brynn Rowley, 13:00
L - Jamie Gilden (assist Helena Peterson) 25:00
L - Gilden, 68:00
L - Ashley Shaw, Gilden, 79:00