COLUMBIA — It was an unfitting end to Monday night's showdown between the Rock Bridge and Hickman girls soccer teams.
After 90 minutes of scoreless play at Hickman, in which both the Bruins and the Kewpies used tough physical play, stifling defense and solid goalkeepers to their advantage, the game went into a 10-minute overtime session.
With only a few minutes left in overtime, Rock Bridge senior midfielder Alyssa Fancher found herself with the ball outside the Hickman box. She sent a weak shot toward the Hickman goal, and it looked destined to roll harmlessly into the arms of Kewpies junior goalkeeper Adele Fritz.
For Fritz, however, the unthinkable happened. The ball squirmed its way through the her arms, rolled through her legs and landed in the back of the net, securing a 1-0 victory for the Bruins.
"The first thing I thought after I shot was 'Man, that was not a good shot,'" Fancher said.
It would be unfair to put the brunt of the blame on Fritz, however. A junior who has served as backup for freshman Emily Miller all year, she was unexpectedly thrown into her first action all season when Miller was hurt early in the first half with an apparent head injury after colliding with Rock Bridge midfielder Bree Dobbins.
"As a goalie, when you're not expecting to play and all of a sudden you get thrown in the game and you haven't played all season, that's tough," Hickman coach Tony Gragnani said of Fritz. "She stepped up and answered the call for us."
On the other side of the field, Rock Bridge coach Marc VanDover had a flashback after seeing Hickman lose Miller to an injury.
"They call it deja vu," VanDover joked.
Just a few weeks earlier during Rock Bridge's April 23 game against Troy, Rock Bridge sophomore goalkeeper Madison Boyken suffered a concussion, forcing senior defender Brett Fuller to step in at goal for the Bruins. Monday was Boyken's first game back in goal since her injury.
Monday's game provided a contrast to the teams' first meeting, on April 9, when Rock Bridge dominated Hickman 3-1. Gragnani said he is pleased with the way his team is growing up as the season progresses.
"Our team is a young team, and they are going to mature a lot as the season goes on," Gragnani said. "Since the first time we have played them, we have grown and gotten better."
Vandover also noted Hickman's improvement, saying that the team's hard work will eventually pay off in victories.
"They have put in the work," VanDover said. "Their record is no indication of the way they are playing."