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RALEIGH — Heritage’s girls soccer team trailed in the first half, but they forced the match into overtime and eventually scored the game-winning goal to beat Wakefield 2-1 on the road Tuesday.
Wakefield scored the first goal of the match with seven minutes left in the first half. Tareya Stokes lobbed a long pass to Jeanna Freeman, who took on both the defender and goalkeeper to put the ball into the back of the net.
During halftime, Heritage head coach Scott Sloan fed his girls some positive reinforcement. He reminded his team that the game wasn’t over yet and that they were good enough to get the victory.
“At halftime, I let the girls know that they were playing well,” Sloan said. “We had tons of opportunities. Wakefield is a difficult team to shut out. We knew that if we kept going and kept playing at our tempo, we would get goals.”
With 21 and a half minutes left in the match, Heritage took a corner kick. The ball bounced around the middle of the penalty box, but eventually Teresa Hupp fed the ball to fellow Husky teammate Braelyn Francher, who kicked it in to tie the game at 1-1.
No one scored in the final minutes of regulation, sending the game to overtime. This was Heritage’s first overtime match this season and Wakefield’s second. The Wolverines lost its last overtime match to Corinth Holders, which went into penalty kicks.
After the first overtime period, the score was still tied. With just over three minutes left to play, Heritage’s Raegan Meyer fed the ball across the penalty box to Hayley Boyles, who knocked in what eventually became the game-winning goal.
“My mentality was to just get as forward as possible,” Boyles said. “I wanted to give our team the best shot we could possibly get. When I saw Raegan darting down the line, I busted my tail to get into position. She gave me an awesome pass and I was able to finish it. It was an awesome moment.”
Sloan said the game-winning goal started with Bri Holt, who broke down Wakefield’s defense on the left side of the field. That allowed Meyer to get open, which in turn led to Boyles getting open in the middle of the field.
“Bri Holt and Raegan Meyer worked the left side of the field on that game-winning play,” Sloan said. “Bri got behind the defense, found Raegan and Hayley had the composed finish. There was a lot of work that went into that goal.”
Wakefield couldn’t tie the game as Heritage shut them down the rest of the match. When the final whistle blew, the Huskies celebrated their big win over their top rival. Heritage lost to Wakefield 2-0 at home March 27. Boyles said getting revenge against their conference rival was sweet.
“It feels great to beat Wakefield,” Boyles said. “It was a tough loss last time we played them. To come out here on their senior night on their field and get the win is really special. We just have to keep going.”
The loss for Wakefield ended a five-game win streak. The Wolverines dropped to 11-3 overall and 7-2 in NAC 6 conference play. Before its match against Heritage, Wakefield only allowed five goals all season.
“A big thing for our forwards is speed,” Boyles said. “Wakefield has a fast defensive back line. We found ways to get in between their gaps and made quick passes.”
With their sixth win in a row, Heritage improved to 12-3 overall and 8-1 in NAC 6 conference play. The victory against the Wolverines means that the Huskies won the NAC 6 conference regular season title. However, their match at Wake Forest on Thursday determined if they won it outright, or if they would share it with Wakefield.
Thursday’s match was not completed by press deadline. Regardless of result, Heritage will hold the top seed in the NAC 6 conference tournament.
“We don’t want to share the conference title with Wakefield,” Sloan said. “We’re going to enjoy the moment and then focus on the next game. We can’t let an emotional high carry over into the next game.”