WARRENSBURG — A Brianna Pollitt goal in the 89th minute lifted Smith-Cotton to a 5-4 win over Warrensburg on Wednesday, closing out the regular season for S-C.
Warrensburg tied the game with 18.8 seconds left in the second half on a goal from Chyanna Colburn, but Smith-Cotton had most of the offensive chances in the overtime, capped off by a long pass from Jessica Coble to Pollitt who charged between two Warrensburg defenders and banked a shot in off the post.
“Coble sent me a ball and I was just juggling it down the field,” Pollitt said. “I saw the keeper coming out, so I just tucked it into the back of the goal. I thought it was going to go really far left, but it hit the post and went in. It was kind of luck also.”
Warrensburg had one quality chance in the overtime, a long shot from outside the penalty area then went directly to keeper Lydia Sharp.
For most of the extra time, Smith-Cotton kept generating chances. Alexia Goodson set up Jill Vansell directly off the opening kickoff of overtime, but Warrensburg keeper Jessica Tiller made the save. Moments later, a shot from Coble was saved, and in the 88th minute the keeper grabbed a long free kick before Pollitt could get to it.
“I thought we were pretty resilient,” said Smith-Cotton coach Adam Murray. “You’ve got to give them credit. They battled hard. I told the girls, you’re going to come up here and you’re going to get their best effort. You’ve got to give some credit to Warrensburg. They played extremely hard and they weren’t going away.”
Smith-Cotton (14-7, 8-2 West Central Conference) had leads of 2-0 and 3-1 before Warrensburg came back to tie the game. A 29th minute free kick just outside the penalty area resulted in Warrensburg’s first goal and, in the 56th minute, Amanda Taylor made it 3-2 when she sneaked a shot past Sharp.
Taylor kept the pressure on Smith-Cotton’s back line with balls played into the corner and tackling balls away from S-C defenders to set up chances for Warrensburg. In the 57th minute, one of those chances nearly turned into a Warrensburg goal as Taylor’s shot got past the keeper but was cleared off the line by Peyton Sharp and Sarah Garcia.
“She was athletic,” Murray said. “We were just telling the girls, keep them in front, make them go sideways or backwards. She’s a good player. She’s athletic and she was able to create opportunities.”
Warrensburg tied the game in the 70th minute on an Ashley Moses penalty kick after Smith-Cotton was called for a handball in the area.
“We were very positive and I don’t think we got down on ourselves,” Pollitt said. “We knew we could come back if we just got our heads together. I think we did a good job of coming back after they came back on us.”
In the 77th minute, Smith-Cotton reclaimed the lead when Goodson sent a long pass to Coble and the speedy freshman made it 4-3.
“We were trying to push everything forward, just trying to get a quick goal at the end of the game,” Goodson said. “We were trying to stay positive and keep everything going forward.”
Warrensburg kept the pressure on over the final three minutes of the second half, eventually scoring the equalizer with 18.8 seconds left.
“We had the momentum and I thought we had it,” Coble said. “All games are unexpected. You don’t know what’s going to happen next, but we pushed through and we stayed positive.”
Warrensburg kept the pressure on for much of the second half.
“We had really settled down,” Goodson said. “We came in relaxed about the game and we settled down as a team and we were working really well together.”
Murray called Goodson Smith-Cotton’s “rock in the middle of the field,” and the senior captain was involved in many plays Wednesday, setting up the strikers and getting to balls in the midfield to stop Warrensburg counterattacks before they could get going.
“She does a great job of controlling the pace of the play and she’s always involved in the middle,” Murray said. “That’s kind of her role and she does a great job of that, getting herself involved, getting other people involved. She’s done a good job of that all year.”
Smith-Cotton opened the scoring in the 13th minute. Tiller made a diving save to deny an initial shot from Coble, but Goodson was there, striking home the goal from the edge of the penalty area.
“They really kept the top of the box really open,” Goodson said.
Smith-Cotton made it 2-0 in the 24th minute when Pollitt set up Vansell.
“I just had the ball and there was no one on me,” Pollitt said. “I saw there was an opening and I saw Jill running down the field so I just flipped it between the two girls and she got to it.”
Smith-Cotton made it 3-1 in the 51st minute when Maddie Davidson sent a through ball to Coble for a goal. The Smith-Cotton midfield kept the pressure on Warrensburg for much of the night, sending through balls and passes over the top to Coble, Vansell and Pollitt.
“We spread them out, then found their gaps and sent the ball through,” Coble said. “Our forwards were able to run onto it.”
Smith-Cotton will open the district tournament against Rock Bridge on Monday.