With her team down a goal at halftime in a must-win soccer match Wednesday afternoon, Mead forward Cheris Brown felt just one emotion.
“To be honest, I was scared,” said Brown, who promptly shed her doubts and scored three second-half goals to rally the Panthers to a 3-2 Greater Spokane League win over visiting Gonzaga Prep.
Better yet, the win put the Panthers on the cusp of a GSL title; a win over Ferris in Friday’s regular-season finale will do the trick.
All that because of the hat trick from Brown, which she completed with a match-winning header with just three minutes left.
The rally began in the halftime huddle. The Panthers (13-1 overall, 7-1 GSL) had the better of play early in the first half, but fell behind in the 19th minute when Prep’s Eva Kennar took a pass from Chelsea Lea, broke loose near the penalty spot and shot past Mead goalkeeper Bailey Thompson.
That invigorated the defending GSL champion Bullpups (9-6, 6-2) and left Mead coach Kevin Houston frustrated.
At the break, “I just told them that we have the ability to possess and move the ball,” Houston said. “We just need to play and want it.”
Properly motivated, the Panthers took what Prep gave them: the long pass. Three minutes into the second half, midfielder Claire Neder sent a long ball down the right wing. Brown collected it in stride and shot across the goalmouth into the left side of the net.
“Taking advantage of the situations they gave us – that’s what we talked about at halftime,” Houston said.
Four minutes later, Brown scored again. For the next 20 minutes, Mead played more defensively as Prep pushed forward. The Bullpups equalized in the 68th minute, setting up Brown’s winner.
With overtime and a possible shootout looming, Thompson wasn’t worried. “I’m always confident,” said Thompson, who faced eight shots and made six saves.
The reason: Mead’s five-minute drill, which the Panthers hold near the end of every practice, when fatigue takes hold. First goal wins.
“That’s our time to shine,” Thompson said.
Moving quickly down the left sideline, forward Olivia Sloan crossed to Brown. “I was just doing what my coach told me to do,” Brown said. “I stayed out wide and watched her and stayed out wide and watched her make that cross and saw it and took it.”
In other action, Haley Elkin scored twice to lead Lewis and Clark 9-5, 5-3) to a 4-2 win over Shadle Park (4-9, 1-7) at Merkel Complex. Keilah Shaw scored the two goals for the Highlanders. The win secures LC a spot in the playoffs with one GSL match remaining. … Senior Julia Adair 6-4, 4-4) knocked in the winning goal in the final minutes as University overcame a deficit in the second half to beat visiting Ferris 2-1. Piper Lawson scored the equalizer in the opening minutes of the first half for the Titans, who searched for the winning goal for approximately 35 minutes before Adair found the back of the net. Madi VonBrethorst scored a goal in the 12th minute for the Saxons (8-4, 4-4). … Maggie Ames, off an assist from Anna Hilbert, scored in the 82nd minute to give host Central Valley 8-2, 6-1) a 3-2 overtime win over Mt. Spokane (4-8, 3-4). Central Valley’s Kailyn LaBrosse, via an assist from Hilbert, scored the match’s first goal. Amber Hickman and Payton Stiles rallied the Wildcats with goals for a 2-1 halftime lead. Mallory Daines, getting an assist from MaKenzie Claypool, tied the match in the 78th minute.
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