DENVER — The East Lincoln Lady Mustangs fell 3-2 to the Polk County Lady Wolverines Friday night during overtime play of the second round of the 2A state playoffs.
Despite the loss, Lady Mustangs’ head coach Jason Dragoon had nothing but praise for his team.
“I thought we played outstanding,” he said.
Dragoon thought his team controlled most of the game and that the Lady Mustangs could have easily won by two or three goals if their opponent hadn’t snuck in a quick goal early in the first half.
While East Lincoln started the game with possession, Polk players quickly stormed their opponents and took control of the game, scoring the first goal of the night in less than a minute. Sophomore Ellese Cash secured the point.
The visiting team continued to pound the Lady Mustangs’ goal at the beginning of the half, but senior goalkeeper Macy Kincaid proved she was tough enough to keep additional Polk goals from sinking into the net.
Cash remained aggressive at forward and proceeded to take the ball down field at several points during the half, however, East Lincoln defenders stayed consistent and alert, particularly sophomore Margaret Turner, who battled with Cash at the four-minute mark, thwarting her scoring efforts.
Senior Montana Fenske excited fans shortly after by traveling swiftly down the field’s right side before trying to shoot. Senior Ciara Mattner and sophomore teammate Tatum Auvil continued to work toward a first team goal for East Lincoln mid-way through the half, executing excellent passing and quick fakes at both ends of the field.
The Lady Wolverines celebrated a second team goal at the 20-minute mark. Sophomore midfielder Lyrics Flood took the opportunity to shoot around Kincaid once the goalkeeper stepped slightly out of the mouth of the goal.
Two minutes later, East Lincoln found themselves back in the game with a goal from senior midfielder Adriene Reavis, who, from 20 yards out, sent the ball high over the goalkeeper’s head during a free kick. Reavis earned her 52nd goal in two years and 28th for the season.
Her teammates seemed to pick up on her aggression following her shot and stepped up their skills on the field, executing more attacks on their opponent’s net.
In the half’s final 30 seconds, Reavis and freshman forward Lexi Smith worked to gain a second Mustang goal, but the Lady Wolverines were quick to block the shot.
Polk led 2-1 over the Lincoln County team going into second-half play.
Three minutes into the half, referees flashed a yellow card after Cash and Kincaid collided inside the goal box. Kincaid was forced to exit the field for a couple of minutes while sophomore teammate Molli Dallin took the goal. While Kincaid was back in front of the net within minutes, Dallin again moved into the goalkeeper position throughout the half, celebrating a number of notable saves.
The Lady Mustangs tied the match at minute 21. Following an unsuccessful play up front, Reavis stepped to the ball and again shot it into the back of the net from outside the goal box.
East Lincoln fans grew tense at the 30-minute mark after watching the Lady Wolverines dribble towards Dallin, securing two close shots on goal. After Dallin moved forward from the goal line to block the ball, which immediately bounced back into play, a Polk County player again took a shot, hitting the goal post.
Regulation play concluded with an East Lincoln corner kick in the final 20 seconds. The play failed to produce a tie-breaking goal, sending the two teams into a 20-minute overtime period.
Both squads maintained equal skill and aggression during the first 10-minute half, however, a minute-and-a-half into the second overtime period, Cash gained Polk their third team goal and match victory, sending the Lady Wolverines into a third-round game Wednesday against South Iredell.
The Lady Mustangs ended their season with a 14-7-3 record, including 10 conference wins.
“I’m very, very proud of my girls,” Dragoon said.