Late heroics by Firebirds salvage 2-2 draw in girls soccer city showdown vs. LHS

photo by: Carter Gaskins

Free State's Ella McCleary, left, and Lawrence High's Olivia Platt battle over the possession of the ball during Tuesday's 2-2 draw at LHS.

A thrilling city showdown girls soccer game came down to a bouncing ball in front of the Lawrence High net with less than a minute to play on Tuesday night at LHS.

And Free State freshman Kate Foust knew just what to do with it.

With time winding down in the rivalry game, Foust’s high-octane header that crossed the goal line just inside the left post tied the game at 2-all with 32 seconds to play in regulation.

After two 10-minute overtime periods, that’s where things remained, with the Lions and Firebirds playing to a 2-2 draw.

“I just kind of gave it everything,” a smiling Foust said after the game. “This actually kind of feels like a win because of how we came back and how well we played in the second half.”

Asked if the header off of the pinball action that tied the game was the best of her life, Foust smiled a little bigger.

“Definitely one of the most important ones,” she said.

photo by: Carter Gaskins

Free State freshman Kate Foust, who wound up scoring the game-tying goal with 32 seconds remaining in regulation, plays the ball ahead during Tuesday’s 2-2 draw against Lawrence High at LHS.

Foust’s late header was just one of Free State’s game-saving goals. The other came off the foot of sophomore midfielder Shelby Roberts, who volleyed in a free kick from junior Elia Mast with 4:55 to play in regulation.

That goal gave the Firebirds (3-9-1) life and the belief that the game was not yet lost after finding little success against the Lions, who played nearly perfectly for the game’s first 75 minutes.

“That one was huge,” said Free State coach Nathan Mangold, who noted that the Firebirds switched up their system in the second half to funnel control of the ball more to the middle of the field. “We were really pressing for that first goal.”

Said LHS senior Avery Kingery of the Firebirds’ late heroics: “They caught us in counter attacks, and that’s something we’ve had trouble with all season.”

The Lions (4-10-1) had little trouble with anything up to that point.

After jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from junior Olivia Platt just 93 seconds into the game, the Lions took a 2-0 lead at the 9:47 mark of the first half on a goal by Kingery.

The goal actually could’ve been Kingery’s second of the game, but her love for her teammates and team-first mentality kept her from making the selfish play on Platt’s blast that beat the Free State goalkeeper low and to her right. As Platt’s ball bounded toward to net, Kingery chased it down to make sure it went in. But instead of pounding it in with authority, she laid off and went to celebrate with her teammates.

“That was her goal,” Kingery said with a grin.

The Lions had a few opportunities to push their lead to 3-0 in the second half. The first came on a blast from senior Riley Unekis just outside of the box that sailed high.

The other two near misses came on a ripped free kick by senior I’yawa Brewer and a sharp-angle shot near the net by Piper Leitch. Both of those came just before the Firebirds found late life.

“This one was a little frustrating because you always want to beat your rival,” Brewer said. “But I’m proud of our team. Games like that happen. And it was just one little mistake that cost us. If we fix that and play with the same energy we had tonight, I think we can still win some games.”

Both teams had their chances in both overtimes, but the only real threats from either side in the extra periods came with the clock winding down. That’s when both teams gave all they had, including those sitting on the benches, who continually screamed encouragement for their teammates on the pitch throughout the night.

“It was definitely not the way we wanted to end the game,” Kingery said. “But the Free State game’s always higher intensity and a lot of fun.”

photo by: Carter Gaskins

Free State’s Madi Beeley (3) tries to get around Lawrence High defender I’yawa Brewer (18) during Tuesday’s 2-2 city showdown draw at LHS.

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