JACKSON – Miranda Hinkle didn’t agree with it, nor did Taylor Meyrick. Jeff Norman pointed to other aspects that led to the outcome.
It was a play that, depending on who you ask, changed the match.
True. To an extent.
Midway through the first half, Hinkle, the Cheyenne Central goalkeeper, charged from 18-yard box toward a 50-50 ball along with Thunder Basin’s Grace Roswa- dovski. The two collided, the referee’s whistle blew, and a foul was called in the box, which gave Thunder Basin a penalty kick.
Seconds later, the match was even 1-1.
Nearly two hours later, it was over.
A year ago, Central and Thunder Basin squared off in this same match in this same town with the Class 4A state championship on the line. The two foes met again – one looking to repeat for the first time in school history, the other looking to avenge the past.
The fourth meeting of the season between the two clubs was arguably the most exhilarating (depending on which side you rooted for). And, for the first time this season, a shootout was needed to decide the winner.
After allowing 11 goals in the previous three matches against Central, Thunder Basin keeper Alyssa Stumbaugh had her chance to erase all of it in the fifth round of the shootout. Stumbaugh blasted a shot past Hinkle to win the shootout 4-2 and the 4A state title Saturday.
“Champions will own everything, 100% of what they
do in their life and that includes the game,” said Norman, the Central coach. “And, yeah, we own it.
“We could talk about officials, we could talk about the opposition, we could talk about being tired. But all of it is on us. It doesn’t do the players any good to empower others, so we have to empower ourselves and own it.”
The No. 1-ranked Lady Indians owned the match leading up to Stumbaugh’s game-winning shot. They outshot the No. 2-ranked Lady Bolts 38-10, with the majority of those coming in the second half. Yet only nine of those found Stumbaugh, who finished with eight saves.
After a flurry of chances on both ends of the pitch, Central (15-2) struck first. Meyrick played a pass to junior Makyleigh Howard, whose initial attempt bounced off Stumbaugh and landed at the feet of Howard, who punched the ball into the left-corner of the net to give Central a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
The Indians had a number of chances to widen their lead, including a point-blank shot by Howard in the 14th minute that was gobbled up by Stumbaugh. Two minutes later, sophomore Zoe Lam ripped a shot off the crossbar, got the rebound and missed wide.
Then, in the 26th minute, Thunder Basin lifted a ball toward the top-right of the box. Seeing Roswadovski closing in, Hinkle sprinted after the ball. The two collided and, minutes later, Thunder Basin (16-4) tied it.
“I went hands to ball, from my perspective, and (Roswadovski) landed on me,” said Hinkle, who stopped five of six Thunder Basin shots. “The ref told me that I played the player, not the ball. I disagreed, but that’s OK. It led to a PK, I dove the right way (but) just not high enough.”
The ruling from the referee was that Hinkle “got too much of” Roswadovski.
“I thought it was a clean hit,” Meyrick said. “(The ref) said it was a 50-50 (hit). It was a close call to make. We have to respect it. He couldn’t take it back or anything, so we just had to keep our heads in the game and just not let it get to us.”
Either way, the match was knotted 1-1 at halftime.
During the break, the referee asked Norman if he had any questions.
“I said, ‘No,’ because it doesn’t matter,” the coach said. “One, you can’t change it. Two, I’m not here to condemn the officials – he’s a human being. Was it a mistake or not? I don’t know, I’ll have to look at it on film. I’m sure a lot of people think it was. Maybe it was.”
Central (15-2) dominated the second half, outshooting Thunder Basin 16-5. But only two of those shots landed on frame. Howard’s 35-yard free kick in the 57th minute clanked off the crossbar, while junior Eliza-Grace Smith’s shot seconds later whistled two feet above the net.
One of Central’s best looks in the second half came off a corner kick in the 60th minute. Smith sent the inbound toward the middle of the box, but junior Ainsley Basich’s header found the hands of Stumbaugh to keep the match even.
“We have 30-plus shots and can only put one in the back of the net,” Norman added. “That’s on us.”
The Indians had eight shots in overtime. None of them went in.
“When we finished, we finished well,” Meyrick said. “When we don’t (finish), it’s how it goes. But we did have a ton of shots on goal, and it was kind of frustrating not being able to get it in. (Stumbaugh) is such a good goalie, and it’s just hard to get things past her.”
Both teams scored in the first round of the shootout, missed in the second and scored in the third. But in the fourth round, after Thunder Basin’s Delany Knottnerus scored, Lam’s shot was denied by Stumbaugh.
After surviving the onslaught of shots directed at her net throughout the match, the Division II Bemidji State University signee dusted herself off and lined up for the next shot.
Seconds later, she was mobbed by her teammates.
“Soccer’s kind of an interesting game that way,” Thunder Basin coach Lyle Foster said. “We just have a lot of faith in her obviously, and she showed it again (Saturday).”
THUNDER BASIN 2, CENTRAL 1, SHOOTOUT
Goals: Central, Howard, (Meyrick), 13. Thunder Basin, G. Roswadovski, (PK), 26.
Shots: Thunder Basin 10, Central 38. Shots on goal: Thunder Basin 6, Central 9. Saves: Thunder Basin 8 (Stumbaugh), Central 5 (Hinkle).
Corner kicks: Thunder Basin 2, Central 4. Offsides: Thunder Basin 2, Central 1. Fouls: Thunder Basin 8, Central 12. Yellow cards: Thunder Basin (G. Roswadovski, 87).