After losing nine matches by a one-goal margin a season ago, Bruce Erickson's squad worked to improve their late-game attack when the Bluejays need a goal.
That effort paid off Sunday at home against Montana.
With less than five minutes left in regulation, it looked like the Grizzlies would ride Stephanie Carl's second-half goal to victory. Carl scored twenty minutes into the second half by getting on the end of a loose ball that the Bluejays failed to clear, following a corner kick, and beat Creighton keeper Danielle Rice from point-blank range.
The inability to clear a corner kick haunted Montana in the late moments of the second half. Sophomore Alyssa Jara played a failed clearance over her head and back into the penalty area. Waiting on the end of Jara's lofted ball was Kyla Booker. Booker, with her back to the goal, flicked the ball towards goal with the outside of her foot and beat Kendra McMillen in the 87th minute, tying the game.
"I didn't even know that she was behind me," said Jara. "I just kind of kicked it and hoped someone would be in there and score."
Jara's roommate, and "favorite teammate," did her part once the ball made it back into the box.
"This one was amazing. Like she (Jara) said, I was at the area at the right time," said Booker. "There was three minutes left and I just knew I just needed to get a flick on it, or something, and I did."
After being minutes away from the defeat, the Bluejays were now moments away from victory. The final few minutes of regulation passed without a goal and the game headed to extra time. Three-and-a-half minutes into overtime, Creighton scored the game-winner.
Alissa Kohmetscher played a ball into the middle from the right flank. From there, chaos ensued. Following the game, Kirstyn Corder, who was credited with the Bluejays' second goal, did her best to explain how the ball got to her.
"The golden goal we got, it was a cluster of it. Salsa (Kohmetscher), she beat the girl, crossed it over, and then Sully (Lauren Sullivan) headed it, and then I don't even know," said Corder. "I headed it; another girl headed it. Whatever happened, it will be interesting to see it on video, but it was a great feeling."
Sullivan, who initially was credited with the goal, didn't have a clear view of the play either.
"Oh my gosh, honestly, I was telling them after the game, I was like ‘what exactly happened?' Because, like ‘Q' (Corder) said, it was just a cluster," said Sullivan. "I remember Salsa beat her girl and I was like ‘I have to get on the end of this. I have to get something on it, just to try to make something happen.' I think I got it, something, I think, with my leg – I don't even remember. I know I just remember ‘Q' just ran in and barely touched it, and I saw it going over the line. I didn't know for sure if it was in, and then I heard the whistle and I was just like ‘Yes!'"
The first Bluejay goal was a product of a blind pass that found a teammate. It was unclear how the second goal unfolded until watching the video after the game, but luck may not be the correct way to describe the goals.
"We play game scenarios in training. One of them is how we adjust when we are down a goal in the last five minutes of the game and everything," said head coach Bruce Erickson. "We made an adjustment and brought Kyla back on to do what ultimately she did."
The scorer of the game-winning goal echoed her coach's statement on the benefit of practicing the situations the Bluejays found themselves in so often throughout the 2012 season.
"We stayed strong mentally and we do scenarios during practice like, if we're down a goal in the last five minutes, you know." Said Corder. "That's what really came back here, that practicing is what helped us mentally get through it."
The win marks six-straight for the Bluejays, and improves their record to 6-2-0 on the year, but it wasn't all good news for Coach Erickson's squad. With Creighton's leading scorer headed into Sunday, freshman Paige Jarsombeck, and co-captain Madelyn Buckner already sidelined with injuries, the Bluejays were hurting before senior Lauren Cingoranelli went down without contact, holding her lower leg. There is not a lot of optimism surrounding the upcoming diagnosis.
"No, but I don't think it looks good," Erickson answered when asked if he had an update on the injury. "I think more than likely it is season-ending. It's a shame because she's been through it before."
If the Bluejays are without one of their few senior leaders, Erickson will need increased production from some of his younger contributors like Booker, Corder, Jara and Sullivan to step up if they want to extend the winning streak.
"We have depth, and I think that showed today. I think it just opens up an opportunity," said Erickson.
Creighton vs. Montana highlights via GoCreighton
Practice Pays Off for Women's Soccer
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