COLUMBIA — The Hickman girls soccer team finally had the ball bounce its way Tuesday night.
With less than two minutes left and the Kewpies leading by a goal, visiting Jefferson City was firing away every chance it had.
The Jays made one last shot, and it looked like the ball was heading into the goal. The ball hit the crossbar in the upper left corner, then bounced near the goal line before bumping the inside of the lower right post.
Hickman goalie Monica Ross dove to the ball and slowly pulled it into her chest as multiple Jefferson City players leaped over her after their hopes of nudging the ball all the way into the net were ruined.
“I was just watching the ball and where it was going,” Hickman coach Tony Gragnani said. “I don’t know how that one didn’t go in. But we’ve had the ball bounce against us earlier this season in the Lindbergh game, the Rock Bridge game. Sometimes, the ball just goes your way. I think we pretty much cashed out our luck in that last eight minutes.”
Hickman held on for a 2-1 victory.
It appeared for most of the game that Hickman would have no problem winning. Especially after junior midfielder Emily Darter passed it back to sophomore midfielder Paige Nelson, who booted it into the upper corner of the net from about 25 yards out to give Hickman a 2-0 lead.
After the goal, Nelson ran over to teammate, senior Grace Grigg, and leapt into Grigg’s arms.
“We needed to come out strong in the second half to keep the lead, and I think that goal helped us stay strong and keep us up,” Nelson said.
After Nelson’s goal, it appeared that Hickman would have no problem upsetting the 10-4 Jays. But the momentum didn’t last long.
“Jefferson City is a great team,” Gragnani said. “When they got that goal to bring it within one goal, they smelled blood in the water and they wanted to come get it.”
“I think we got too confident on our lead,” Darter said. “We kind of let up at the end. I think it just got to our heads that we could let up a little bit, which, obviously we couldn’t.”
The win was a needed one for Hickman, who came into Tuesday night having lost three of its past four games. Gragnani said that the win was also needed because the team has struggled this season to protect its leads. With the win, Hickman improves to 5-5.
“The girls played the best soccer I’ve seen them play all year,” Gragnani said.
Hickman will play next on Friday and Saturday at the Sedalia Tournament.