After being called offside on a number of occasions during the first half of a West Division battle with Southwestern, Mike Burr pulled a few of his Maple Grove Lady Red Dragons aside and gave them a some much-needed pointers on how to avoid a similar situation in the future.
One of those players, Sarah Pardue, took the information to heart.
But even more importantly, with just 18 seconds remaining in the opening overtime period of a tied game, the junior put the information to use.
Erin Domagola of Southwestern, left, moves in on Randolph’s Emma Franczak during Thursday’s non-league girls soccer game. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
With time ticking down, Alison Winchester, who was taking a free kick from 35 yards out after Southwestern was called for a hand ball, lofted a kick across the field and towards the left corner of the 18-yard box. Pardue, meanwhile, recalling what her coach had told her, kept in line with the Southwestern defense, stayed onside and then timed her acceleration perfectly to gain possession of the ball behind the Lady Trojans' defense.
"I told my girls how to counteract (the offside call)," Burr said, "so we did a much better job of it (late in the game). They did the right thing; exactly what I told them and it was a good opportunity for us."
A chip and a footrace later - Pardue managed to just barely beat Southwestern goalie Britta Johnson to knock the slow-rolling ball into the back of the net - and Pardue had delivered the game-winning goal, lifting Maple Grove to a season-opening overtime victory, 2-1, over the Lady Trojans at Charles A. Lawson Field on Thursday evening.
"Sarah just kind of flicked (the ball) and I thought (Johnson) was going to get it," Burr said, "but Sarah outran her and poked it in. It was just one of those things where sometimes you're not sure if it's going in and I said, 'Stop leaving it for someone else. If you can go get the ball, go get it.'
"And that's what they did."
Southwestern coach Derek Houser acknowledged that his defense, whose ever-so-slight hesitation allowed Pardue to get out alone in the penalty area, likely expected another offside call.
"It was very tight," Houser said of the play. "I think there may have been a hesitation there, a thought that maybe they should try to hold their ground and make sure they weren't going to let someone be onside. It was a tight play and (Maple Grove) obviously works on that.
"Anytime you play a game like this it can come down to a play like that."
It was a tough way to lose for the Lady Trojans, especially after overcoming a 1-0 deficit in the first half - Maple Grove's Emma Franczak had scored at the 18-minute mark when she curled in a corner kick - and maintaining the majority of the offensive pressure in the second.
After being outshot 5-1 in the opening half, in fact, Southwestern turned the tables in the second, edging Maple Grove, 4-1, and scoring the equalizer in the 59th minute when Emily Wuebbolt sailed a shot into the left upper 90.
"I think it was (us) just getting into the flow," Houser said of the second-half improvement. "We really focused on playing more in control, and just not getting frantic about things; letting the game happen and making plays."
It was almost enough.
Energized by Pardue's tally, however, Maple Grove's defense buckled down during the final 10-minute overtime period and didn't allow Southwestern even one more shot on goal.
Maple Grove goalie Brie Davis made five saves in the victory.
"This is (the kind of win) that builds a nice foundation," Burr said. "It's a good win to start the season. They showed some grit, which I was excited to see. We somehow found another gear and they really dug deep in overtime.
"I was really, really proud of them for that."