Hickory Christian tops Lady Crusaders in OT for state title
Grace Christian's girls soccer team, playing for its first-ever NCISAA state title, trailed Hickory Christian for all but 25 seconds worth of Saturday afternoon's NCISAA 1A State Championship. The Lady Crusaders (18-2-1) still had every chance to win until the last five minutes of overtime.
Hickory Christian scored goals five and 15 minutes into the 20-minute overtime period for a 4-2 victory and the state championship.
No. 3-seeded Grace Christian edged No. 2 Statesville Christian 2-1 in the semifinals Friday night. That match was a rematch of a Grace Christian win from the regular season and so was the final.
No. 1 Hickory Christian controlled the majority of possession and scoring opportunities.
The Lady Crusaders trailed 1-0 at the half and rallied back with back to back goals from their top goalscorer, freshman Madison Bolen.
In the 60th minute, Lady Crusader forward Torie Boyte earned a penalty kick as she was tripped down from behind in the box a moment after Hickory Christian had already cleared the ball from the box.
Bolen hit a strong right-footed shot into the back of the net tying the match.
Bolen's next strike was out of nowhere, or more specifically from about 40 yards away from goal.
On a free kick, seemingly out of range for a shot on goal, it wasn't for Bolen who lined a shot over the keeper and glancing off the underside of the crossbar for a 2-1 Lady Crusader lead in the 69th minute.
Still in the 69th minute, less than 30 seconds later, Hickory Christian got the goal back.
Hickory Christian kept most of the pressure building on the Lady Crusaders. The two Bolen goals were the only Grace shots on goal through the second half and overtime.
The top seed played without its starting keeper for part of the second half, including the Bolen penalty kick, after a collision between Grace Christian's Charity Taylor and the keeper left Taylor with a yellow card and Hickory's goalie on the sideline for about 15 minutes.
Grace Christian had been without its first-string keeper, Victoria Druther, throughout the conference and state postseason. Karinda Farrant had played great through the Grace victories and made 10 saves in the final.
Central defender Kyndle Wallace was nearly an unlikely attacking hero twice. In the first half, while the match was 0-0, Wallace nearly headed the ball in on a goal line scramble from a corner kick.
In the 55th minute, Wallace headed a crossed ball off the right post.
The Lady Crusaders finish the season 18-2-1 and with an undefeated campaign through the Carolina Christian Conference.