RAWLINS — After putting the first mark on the scoreboard just under eight minutes into the game against Douglas High School Girls Soccer (1-1-0,4-1-2) Tuesday, No. 5 Rawlins High School (2-1-0,4-13) couldn’t find their way back to the net for almost the rest of regulation.
The Lady Bearcats took advantage of the Lady Outlaws’ inability to score, tallying goals in each half, holding a 2-1 lead into the final minute. The possessions changed by the second, and an out-of-bounds kick would put sophomore midfielder Brooke Palmer in the corner and her teammates lined up in front of the net with one final shot at redemption.
Palmer had been putting the ball where it needed to be with corner kicks all game — the Lady Outlaws had just failed to capitalize on it.
This time they would.
With 11 seconds on the clock, sophomore forward McKenzie Earl muscled through a Lady Bearcat defender to the ball, and punched in the score to tie the game. Through two overtimes, both teams would go scoreless, ending the game in a 2-2 draw.
The sophomore connection to save the day was no serendipitous event, as the Class of 2021 has been RHS’ shining light all season.
“I believe we have a very strong sophomore class,” Rawlins Head Coach Brooke Dotterer-Mendez said. “I am excited to continue on with this class, but ultimately it takes everyone to get these players the ball.”
The group effort was strong in the opening minutes of the game, but at 7:19-mark, it was a sophomore who claimed the glory.
After multiple chances breaking free, but being cut off before reaching the goal, sophomore forward Ali Edwards finally found her opening. Stripping the ball from a Lady Bearcat, Edwards dashed to the net, hitting the bottom right corner for the match’s christening score.
While the sophomore class has prevailed, as Dotterer-Mendez noted, it takes an entire 22-player roster to be successful, and cohesively, the Lady Outlaws didn’t always put themselves in that position.
Over the next 30 minutes, junior goalkeeper Jordan Jerome would lockdown her territory, protecting the net from anything Douglas kicked her way with the help of her defenders taking their rightful spots; however, at 2:50, the clock would stop, and Jerome would have to fend her enclave solo.
A Lady Bearcat lined up for a penalty kick, sizing up Jerome for a one-on-one matchup. The Douglas player shot to the bottom left corner. Jerome dove at the ball, but couldn’t make the grab, sending both teams into the locker room at half tied up.
“PKs are never fun,” Dotterer-Mendez said. “I think both players were strongly going for the ball and using both their bodies, but that’s the way soccer works. You win some of those battles and you lose some. And in that game, we lost that battle.”
They hadn’t yet lost the war, and their fight continued.
Both teams flowed back and forth up the field changing directions, but after 10 minutes into the final half, Douglas decided to keep the ball in their control.
Nearly two minutes rolled by with the Lady Bearcats managing the attack. After pressuring the goal heavily for some time, finally, their assault would strike down on Rawlins as the clock ticked to 28:05. A Douglas player broke free down the right side of the field, and kicked a low ball across Jerome into the opposite side of the net to take a 2-1 lead.
What would look to be a dysfunctional series of defense Dotterer-Mendez called a breakdown of the entire team.
“It starts from the top down,” she said. “If the forwards aren’t winning the balls, and the midfield isn’t stepping up to get the balls to the forwards, this happens. It’s a team, it’s not one person. One person can’t do it all. It takes all 11 on the field, and Douglas wanted the game.”
But so did the Lady Outlaws.
RHS finally found some life again on the offensive side following the goal, but couldn’t get what they needed. With their backs against the wall and just seconds left in the game with one last shot, Palmer would find Earl to send the game into two separate 10-minute periods.
Neither team would hit paydirt; but neither team would walk off the field with their heads down.
“I think there were great things that came out of (Tuesday), and also things that could have improved from (Tuesday),” Dotterer-Mendez said.
One of her main focuses will be keeping the fire going after early goals ignite a spark.
The RHS coach said that her team holds back after getting the upper-hand on their opponents quickly.
Heading into a non-conference match against Pinedale High School (0-4,1-6), she wanted to hone in on the team settling in and finishing.
“By being able to keep the drive of wanting to score more and winning is where we are lacking,” she said. “I think there were players that really stepped up and gave us great opportunities to help in those areas — we just need to put it all together.”
Rawlins played Pinedale Friday. An update on that game will be in Wednesday’s edition of the Rawlins Times. The Lady Outlaws’ next contest is against No. 2 Buffalo High School (1-0,4-1-1) at 4 p.m. Thursday at Buffalo.