WILMINGTON – Sanford took a 1-0 lead on Ursuline in the teams’ matchup in the first round of the DIAA Division II girls soccer state tournament on May 19, and for more than 50 minutes, that looked like it might stand up. But the fifth-seeded Raiders tied the game in the final 45 seconds of regulation time, then converted a corner kick in the sixth minute of overtime to survive the 12th-seeded Warriors, 2-1, on a warm afternoon at Serviam Field.
Emma Raftovich scored the winner, but it was a team effort. Samantha Hurd inbounded the ball into a crowded 18-yard box, and Meg Macauley got her head on the ball, sending it more toward the middle of the box. Warriors keeper Thiwara Phouthavongsa had attempted to reach the inbounds, so when the ball reached Raftovich, she was able to lean forward and send a header into an unoccupied net. After battling for nearly 60 minutes after the Warriors’ goal, the Raiders found the energy to mob Raftovich in front of the Sanford goal.
Ursuline was in control of the ball most of the afternoon, but the Raiders could not solve the Warriors’ defense. Sanford had a few offensive chances early on, but nothing happened until the 27th minute. The Warriors’ Caitlin Llewellyn grabbed a loose ball and send a long through ball up the middle. Michaela Tessein outraced the defense to the ball, dribbled a few yards toward Ursuline keeper Hannah Kelley and tapped the ball low into the right side for the 1-0 lead.
The Raiders went to work immediately trying to equalize. Macauley missed just wide right in the 28th minute, and Phouthavongsa made a few saves as the first half progressed.
The pressure from the Raiders intensified in the second. Ursuline earned back-to-back corner kicks in the 42nd minute, and they spent mush of the half trying to penetrate the Sanford defense, which was sitting back in their own defensive zone. Offensively, the Warriors waited for opportunities, and their best one came in the 53rd, when a crossing pass was sent high to Kelley’s left, but the keeper was able to swat the shot away with two hands.
Phouthavongsa kept Sanford in the lead with multiple saves, with one of her best coming in the 65th when a free kick by Sophia Filipowski went off the keeper’s fingers and the post behind her.
Things got a bit stranger as regulation neared its conclusion. Hurd finally got a shot past Phouthavongsa, but Audrey Holveck was there to clear. The Raiders pleaded for a penalty kick after one of their players was tackled inside the 18-yard box in the 74th, but none was forthcoming. Then, in the 78th minute, the home team appeared to have tied the game.
The Raiders were awarded a free kick from about 30 yards out, and Filipowski sent a high, arcing shot over the outstretched arms of Phouthavongsa into the back of the net. As the team celebrated, however, the officials gathered and eventually waved off the goal. They ruled that it was an indirect free kick, which meant Filipowski could not score unless the ball went off another player.
With time ticking down, Ursuline kept at it. They had a late throw-in, and Ava Lindia headed the ball toward the goal. Her sister Bella was there to finish the job, with the ball trickling over the line for the equalizer in extra time.
Momentum remained with the Raiders into overtime, Hurd was just wide on a free kick, leading to Ursuline’s first corner kick of the 10-minute sudden-death. That didn’t pan out, but they got their next chance a minute later, and this time, Raftovich delivered the golden goal.
The Raiders had a 31-4 shot advantage, and a 6-1 edge in corner kicks. Kelley had three saves. Ursuline improved to 11-5 and will travel to No. 4 Indian River on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Phouthavongsa finished with 15 saves for the Warriors, who finished 8-7-1.
All photos by Mike Lang.