North Marion girls stave off Stayton in 3-2 overtime playoff victory
After nearly 100 minutes of competition between the North Marion and Stayton girls soccer teams, it appeared that the first round playoff match on Tuesday night at Woodburn High School was going to be decided on team penalty kicks.
Mya Hammack made sure the Huskies would only need one.
North Marion's All-State midfielder converted on the game-winning PK with just nine seconds left in the second half of overtime, lifting the No. 5 Huskies (10-3-2, 6-2-2 Tri-Valley) to a 3-2 victory over the Eagles (11-4-1, 9-2-1 Oregon West) and sending them to the quarterfinals against defending state champion No. 4 Hidden Valley (13-2, 8-2 Skyline) on Saturday.
Hammack's game winner came after Stayton rallied for two goals in the second half, including a 25-yard strike from senior K.J. Nyquist in the 74th minute, to send the contest into extra time.
The two teams remained deadlocked and appeared to be on the path toward deciding the winner on penalty kicks when Hammack took possession of the ball with 20 seconds left and sprinted up the left side for one final attack.
"I had no idea," she said. "I didn't know how much time was left, but I was going, we needed the score."
The junior advanced the ball 60 yards, shadowed by Stayton sophomore Alissa Humphreys, and the two players collided just inside the penalty box with nine seconds remaining. Hammack was sent to the turf, earning a bloody nose and softball-sized rugburn on her right hip, in addition to a chance to win the game.
"I was going full momentum, and I think she was going full momentum," Hammack said. "She elbowed me in the face, but then she tripped me and I fell."
The Huskies' leading scorer this season by a considerable margin, Hammack had thus far been held scoreless against the Eagles, who defended her with two or three players for much of the game.
With the team's playoff future on the line, Hammack faked left, pulling Stayton goalkeeper Karlee Tyler off balance, and sent the ball into the bottom right corner to keep the Huskies' season alive.
"I tried to stay really relaxed," Hammack said. "I've had to shoot PKs to win the game, but never that intense."
It was a considerably more dramatic finish to the game than North Marion was hoping for, particularly after entering the second half with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
The Huskies immediately came out after the opening whistle looking to dictate control of the game and found success five minutes in when sophomore Dominque Huapeo slotted a pass to junior Hailey Welch for the first goal of the game.
North Marion struck again toward the end of the half when Hammack dribbled into the goal box, drawing a trio of defenders that left junior Carter Crawford open at the top. Hammack push the ball to Crawford's feet, and she converted from 18 yards out.
"They had a hard time taking the ball off (Hammack)," North Marion head coach Ben Bonser said. "You have three defenders, then a fourth and a fifth, and someone is going to be open."
But the second half belonged to Stayton.
The Eagles found purchase in the opening minutes when junior Ashlyn Burt took an attack deep into North Marion territory, drawing out Husky keeper Mallory Panzer. Burt passed to junior teammate Madison Pask, who slipped the ball into the net to cut Stayton's deficit in half.
Needing a goal to keep their season alive, the Eagles struck with six minutes left in regulation when Nyquist dribbled right at the top of the box, found a window, and sent an arcing shot around Panzer's outstretched arms to the top right corner of the net to make it a 2-2 game.
"Their strength was their speed and their counterattack, and that's where their goals came from," Bonser said. "It was probably one of the tougher matchups among the top eight. It made us step up and play."
North Marion came out with renewed focus in overtime, pressing deep into Stayton territory, but the Eagles were able to stave off each attack. The Huskies appeared to take the lead in the waning seconds of the first overtime period, when junior Hailey Welch lined up for a corner kick, delivering the ball into the middle of the scrum. The ball was deflected into the bottom of the cross bar and came down behind Tyler as the horn blew to stop play.
As both teams went to the sideline to prepare for the second overtime period, the referees conferred at midfield, initially awarding the goal to North Marion before waving it off moments later.
The Huskies had additional opportunities in the final 10 minutes. Welch had a shot on goal from 18 yards out that got past Tyler, only to strike the left goal post and ricochet out of bounds. In the 99th minute, freshman Adrie Lader sent a deep shot from 25 yards that looked destined to sink into the top of the net, only for Tyler to punch the ball over the goalpost.
"We had so many chances in the first half and second half to put this game away, and we didn't," Bonser said. "We've got to be able to finish going forward. We're not going to have that much mercy against other teams."
The ensuing corner kick was deflected downfield, where Stayton went into attack mode. The Eagles made one last push that was defended by North Marion, leading to Hammack's game-winning drive.
"They were a really good team, really physical, and I felt we matched well to that," Hammack said. "We obviously started out really strong, which is something that we focused on. We had some let downs, but in the end, we came together and started connecting those passes, just played our game and that helped us win in the end."
The win put North Marion back in the state quarterfinals for the second time in the past three seasons. The Huskies advanced to the quarters in 2017 when the team entered the state playoffs ranked No. 1 in the state. But they were eliminated in overtime by Hidden Valley, who went on to lose in the state championship game to Valley Catholic.
The Mustangs returned to the finals in 2018, winning a rematch against the Valiants for their third title in program history.
Hidden Valley defeated the Banks Braves in the first round of the 2019 playoffs on Tuesday, setting the stage for a rematch against North Marion in Grants Pass on Saturday.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Hidden Valley High School. The winner will advance to the semifinals to face either No. 1 Gladstone or No. 9 Woodburn on Nov. 12.
North Marion girls soccer playoff history
This year marks the fourth trip to the state playoffs in program history for the Huskies.
2012 – 0-1, lost in first round
2017 – 1-1, lost in quarterfinals
2018 – 0-1, lost in first round
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