SHERWOOD — Sherwood junior Joley Sproul appeared in teammate Loma McNeese’s peripheral vision at just the right time to save the Bowman girls soccer team from a Freddie Krueger-sized scare Tuesday night in the second round of the 6A girls soccer playoffs.
McNeese was advancing on the Lake Oswego goal once again, with the score tied and a hiccup over three minutes left in the first overtime. And once again she was surrounded by three Laker defenders.
What to do, what to do?
“I was seeing a little opening, and I could have taken a shot,” said McNeese, the best gunslinger Sherwood has. “Then I saw Joley run up and passed it to her.”
Nobody was around to defend Sproul, who advanced the ball three taps down the right side of the the Laker goal and fired a net-popper into the upper left-hand side of the goal. Laker goalkeeper Sheila Bhowmik, who had been making spectacular saves all night, didn’t have a chance here.
“It was perfectly set up,” Sproul said. “I saw a chance to run up. She fed me the ball. I had a perfect swing at it."
The goal, with 3:09 left in the first overtime, made a lot of good things happen for second-ranked Sherwood, the No. 4 seed.
It broke a tie and set the stage for a 4-2 victory over the Lakers. It sent the Bowmen into the quarterfinals, where they will play a home game against West Salem at 5 p.m. Saturday.
It gave them their 11th straight victory and ran their record up to 15-1-1.
And the big one: It eased some of the guilt Sherwood was feeling for not putting the unranked Lakers away in the first half, when they turned the Lake Oswego goal into a shooting gallery and only had a 2-0 advantage to show for it. It could easily have been 5-0.
“I’m proud of the grit they showed to take over the game (in overtime),” Sherwood coach Katie Hartman said. “They (the Lakers) are a good team when they get rolling, and we let them get rolling. We should have finished the game in the first half.
“But they decided that they wanted to play in the overtime.”
Pretty good summary, that. The Bowmen scored just 1:09 into the first half when Bhowmik made her only mistake of the night and let a save bounce away from her. Alysia Alvarado pounced on the gimme for a 1-0 Sherwood lead.
The Bowmen got their second goal with 10:55 left in the first half when McNeese, who is fast, strong and skilled, dribbled in from the sideline and let fly with a right-footed, straight-on blast from 15 yards out.
But the rest of the first 40 minutes for Sherwood were an exercise in futility. In the 34th minute McNeese hit the crossbar with a Big Ben clang. In the 23rd minute a header off a free-kick lob popped over the same bar.
And McNeese had two point-blank shots and, with wide-open nets on both sides, hit them right at Bhowmik.
“At halftime we talked about taking advantage of our opportunities,” Hartman said. “Was I alarmed? No. But we emphasized that.”
If she wasn’t alarmed, she should have been. The Bowmen missed two more solid gold opportunities early in the second half. When Bhowmik fearlessly charged out for a save and missed it, Laker sophomore defender Julia Sieber fell back into the goal mouth and kicked the subsequent shot away. McNeese missed high with another one.
The Lakers, 7-7-2, turned everything around after that. They started beating Sherwood to balls, running people into position and creating some serious threats. Suddenly the Bowmen were felling out of position way too often.
The Lakers finally broke through with 26:20 left in the game when sophomore forward Lauren DeGroot stuffed a rebound into a wide-open net and cut the lead to 2-1.
Twelve minutes later, with 14:10 remaining, a Sherwood defender shoved the Lakers’ dangerous freshman wing, Megan Ko, to the ground in the box. Senior Kristen Andrew smashed the ensuing penalty kick to the low right and the game was tied at 2-2.
Both teams had chances to break that tie in the last 14 minutes, but the tie held.
As the Lakers were catching up, McNeese was kicking herself senseless for her first-half misses.
“I’m pretty hard on myself,” the New Mexico State commit said. “I was getting really frustrated. I got really mad at myself for those misses. “But when Joley got that goal, a great, big weight came off my shoulders.”
The Bowmen got their final goal with 37 seconds left in the first overtime period when Allison Alvarado drilled a close one home.