Fluke goal sinks Raider soccer team

Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006

Senior forward Katie Greenwood has never been fond of goal posts or cross bars during her days on the girls’ soccer team at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. Saturday evening in the Class 4A state semifinals, she acquired a sincere disdain for them.

Greenwood and teammate Ikumi Doucette each hit the crossbar and the right post in the Raiders’ 1-0, double-overtime loss to Quince Orchard at Winston Churchill High Saturday and the Cougars prevailed on a fluke goal from junior Christie Shell. Roosevelt senior sweeper Mary Raffael lightly tapped the ball back toward senior goalie Wendy Balogun, but Balogun failed to clear the ball past Shell who ended the drama with 5 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the extra session.

‘‘I hate crossbars,” Greenwood said. ‘‘I never liked them before and now I hate them. We had some good scoring chances. I don’t know how many times we hit the post or the crossbar. I thought we played well the whole game. I was confident we could put a run together and score a goal in the second overtime. It was just unfortunate that we didn’t have another chance.”

Immediately after the game, Roosevelt first-year coach Martin Pfister huddled with his team and gradually bid them farewell. As his players slowly and tearfully headed toward the bus, Pfister gazed onto the field in sheer disbelief about the sudden end to the game and the season.

‘‘It was just one of those unlucky things that can happen in a soccer game,” said Pfister, whose team went 17-2. ‘‘That’s soccer. Sometimes the ball takes funny bounces. I can’t blame Wendy for anything. She’s the reason we’re here. It was just a communication breakdown. I don’t know what happened. I don’t think either one of them really knows. I’m sure there are not too many people here who think the better team won. The best team is going home.”

Roosevelt had advanced to the state semifinals by upending perennial arch rival Bowie for the third time this season in the 4A South Region final, a game the host Raiders thoroughly dominated. Through much of Saturday’s state semifinal, Roosevelt again appeared to be the better team, gaining control of the middle and eventually earning several excellent scoring chances against Quince Orchard keeper Jenna Cheek.

Roosevelt sophomore Britney Harris had the first chance in the opening minutes of the contest, but Cheek made a save. Midway through the first half, freshman forward Briana Hovington dribbled her way past two defenders and took a sliding shot that nearly got past a diving Cheek. Balogun made several saves in the first half, but on shots that were from well outside the box.

Early in the second half, Doucette beat her defender down the left sideline and then worked her way along the end line to take a shot deep in the box that Cheek snared. Moments later, Hovington had another good scoring chance but again Cheek came through with a clutch save. But over the next 10 minutes, the Raiders’ attack would become more invasive.

Harris sent a corner kick through the box that eventually made its way to an uncovered Greenwood. The senior sent one of her patented left-footed shots high and directly on target. Cheek leapt in vain and watched the ball carom off the top of the crossbar and go over. Moments later another Greenwood shot ended in Cheek’s arms, and after a Greenwood corner, Doucette sent another shot off the crossbar.

In the first overtime, Roosevelt again had several good chances. Joy Doucette and Raffael took shots that Cheek saved and later Hovington hit the crossbar with two separate shots and Ikumi Doucette hit the right post with less than a minute remaining. Each team had one shot on goal in the opening stages of the second overtime, then Shell scored when Balogun failed to clear the ball past her.

E-mail Ted Black at tblack@gazette.net.