The Sandpoint girls soccer team took the dramatic route in its State 4A tournament opener Thursday afternoon.
It’s a path first-year coach Julie Pitre is all too familiar with, but she is thankful her team eventually found its way.
Such was the case again when the Bulldogs found themselves trailing 2-0 just 11 minutes into the match before Sandpoint rallied for a 3-2 overtime victory over the Kuna Kavemen at Post Falls High School.
Sandpoint (8-6-5) faces Wood River (14-2-1) this afternoon at 2 in the semifinals. Wood River advanced with a 3-2 win over previously undefeated Hillcrest (16-1-0).
Bulldogs sophomore Meghan Pagano drilled a left-footed shot from 21 yards out into the upper-left corner 6 minutes into overtime.
“I don’t usually shoot with my left foot, but getting a left-footed goal is always a pleasure,” Pagano said.
It capped a comeback that needed a penalty kick to get started in the 34th minute. Talented senior midfielder Melinda VanDyk fought through Kuna’s defense and was fouled in the box, setting up the penalty kick. Junior Nichole Pagano converted to pull the Bulldogs within 2-1.
Two minutes following halftime, junior forward Ellie Engel stole the ball after a corner kick and hit a nice, high shot from 13 yards into the upper-right corner to even the match.
“My girls have battled back every time they get down 2-0,” Pitre said. “They never quit working the entire match. I can count on that. It was disappointing to fall behind that fast, but I was secure in the fact the girls would fight back.”
Sandpoint controlled play throughout, finishing with 19 shots to Kuna’s five, four of those in the first half.
“We were pressuring the goal,” Pitre said. “I knew if they were consistent with taking shots that at some point they would go in.”
Pitre said she had a few nerves in her first state tourney game as head coach, and she was exhausted afterward.
“I’m tired,” she said. “You never want to be in that position (trailing 2-0), but if any team’s going to be in that position, my girls are the girls who will come back and fight.”
• In a 4A boys opener at Lake City, Moscow (11-8-0), behind a goal from Andrew Bender, downed Columbia 1-0.
• In 5A boys openers at Idaho Falls, Lake City (10-4-2), with goals from T.J. McWhorter, Evan Teichman and Donald Osborne-Moss, beat Timberline 3-1, while Coeur d’Alene (12-4-2) fell 3-1 to defending state champ Centennial.
• In 5A girls openers at Idaho Falls, Mountain View topped Lake City (8-6-3) 3-1 and Boise shut out Lewiston (8-3-6) 4-0.
• In a 3A boys opener at Twin Falls, Bonners Ferry (16-3-0) used an own goal to stop Marsh Valley 1-0.
• In a 3A girls opener at Twin Falls, Timberlake (11-3-3), making its state debut, got past Teton 2-1 behind goals from Kayla Bowers and Jess Brandal.