Lake City freshman Madyson Smith, who might be 5 feet tall with padding in her shoes, didn’t flinch in the big moment Friday.
Barely 46 seconds into overtime against undefeated and two-time defending State 5A champ Centennial, Smith lifted a hard rebound into the net to move host Lake City into the championship match.
For the second day in a row, Smith had the wherewithal to be in the right position at the right time. Teammate Hannah Clark ripped a shot from 35 yards that caromed off Patriots goalie Hannah McFadden, and Smith, with uncanny calm, put the game-winner away from 6 yards out.
With McFadden out of position, the net had to look was as big as Lake Coeur d’Alene to Smith.
“I just kicked it and I don’t know anything else,” Smith said. “It was more of a team effort that we got here. It wasn’t so much I scored the goal but the team scored.”
LC (13-3-2) meets Rocky Mountain, a 1-0 victor over Timberline, on Saturday at Coeur d’Alene High School at 2.
In a high-caliber match, both teams played stunningly well throughout, especially on defense. It was rare either team got a clean look near the top of the penalty box.
LC never trailed. Each time the Timberwolves scored the Patriots (15-1-3) scored an equalizer moments later.
LC withstood a dramatic moment late in regulation when Centennial’s Josie Bush got loose for a shot from 8 yards but goalie Emily Parson made a superb save.
It was a rematch of last year’s state final in which Centennial prevailed in sudden-death penalty kicks.
LC coach Matt Ruchti told his players during the brief intermission before overtime to go on the attack from the opening moment.
And his T-Wolves responded. They didn’t want to leave the outcome to penalty kicks for a second year.
“I told them ‘You’re not tired and this is what we do,’ ” Ruchti said. “They’ve come a long way and gotten better the last two weeks.”
Ruchti praised Centennial.
“They’re a great program and they’re two-time defending state champions for a reason,” Ruchti said. “They have a high-level soccer IQ.”
Ruchti said nonleague matches against Mead and Central Valley were great preparation for the match against Centennial.
“We hadn’t quite faced a formation quite like (Centennial),” Ruchti said. “It was tough for us but that’s the reason why we play against the Meads and the Central Valleys. It forces us to be ready for these types of moments.”
Centennial coach Steven Snider knew the showdown with LC would go the distance and perhaps beyond.
“You knew it was going to come down to somebody stepping up when the game’s on the line,” Snider said. “You’ve got to give them credit. They’ve got some talented kids and they did a good job of being aggressive in that final third (of the field).”
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