Grove City girls beat Hilliard Darby
Just like a feel-good movie, teammates felt like the ball left Paige Linville's foot in slow motion.
The senior forward for the Grove City High School girls soccer team got her foot under the ball nearly 15 yards from the goal in a second-round Division I district tournament game Oct. 18 against visiting Hilliard Darby.
The teams were tied in overtime when Linville arched the ball over Darby defenders before it landed behind goalkeeper Rachel Harricharran for the game-winner in a 2-1 victory.
"My heart stopped when it was in the air," junior forward Ashley Artrip said of the goal, which Linville scored with 5 minutes, 41 seconds left in the 10-minute overtime.
"I started crying before it went in," junior midfielder Kendra White said.
For Linville, it was the final shot that she would take on her home field. The goal sent the 12th-seeded Greyhounds to a district semifinal Oct. 23 at third-seeded Dublin Jerome.
"That really hasn't started to sink in yet," Linville said. "I'm just happy that we won the game right now."
Junior midfielder Grace Monhemius headed the ball to Linville, who saw an opening and took her shot.
"It was fitting that Paige hit the game-winner because she was one of the original players that I had when I came here (in fall 2010)," said coach Josh Keller, whose team improved to 9-4-4 after having a first-round bye. "She's a good kid and it was a great thing for her."
Grove City had its hands full against Darby, which finished 4-12-2. The Panthers led 1-0 at halftime on a goal by Caitlin McCarthy.
"Darby has been playing a lot better lately, and (the Panthers) came at us with a tough, physical game plan," Keller said. "They gave us all we could handle."
The Greyhounds tied the game at 1 when Riley Bowyer scored with 10:07 left in the second half.
"In the tournament, it's about surviving and moving on, and we were able to do that," Keller said. "We weren't ready to (finish the season) just yet.
"I'm really proud of the way each and every one of our girls played and didn't give in. They kept their heads and kept working their way back into the game."
It was the Greyhounds' second consecutive trip to a district semifinal. Last season, they lost to Dublin Coffman 3-0.
Grove City lost 10 of 17 players from last season's roster but still made it back within a game of a district final.
The Grove City-Jerome winner plays in a district final at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Canal Winchester against eighth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or 10th-seeded Olentangy Liberty.
Before playing Oct. 23, Kilbourne was 10-6-1 and Liberty was 9-6-2.
The Greyhounds did not play Kilbourne this season and defeated Liberty 1-0 on Sept. 27.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, at a site to be determined against Hilliard Davidson, Thomas Worthington, Olentangy or Watterson. The regional final is 3 p.m. Nov. 3 at a site to be determined.
"We have a young team that includes eight freshmen," Keller said. "Not all of the eight play all of the time, but we have some major contributors. To make it back to a district semifinal is great and it's something we're extremely happy about."