That’s what Maranacook junior Lindsey Perkins did Wednesday afternoon … give or take 20 minutes. After a lengthy delay for what turned out to be, fortunately, a minor injury to Kym Johnson of St. Dom’s, Perkins finally got the chance to test her frayed nerves.
She buried the bid from 20 yards away with 17:18 remaining in regulation, good for the lone goal in the No. 5 Black Bears’ 1-0 shutout of the No. 4 Saints in a Class C West girls’ quarterfinal.
“That was terrible. It was hard on me. I would have rather taken it as soon as possible rather than wait, because my nerves were crazy,” Perkins said. “I was trying to figure out whether to shoot to score, or shoot to far post so my team could score.”
Perkins’ correct choice, stunningly, left Maranacook (12-3-1) as the top remaining seed in the regional tourney.
St. Dom’s (12-4) joined MVC rivals Madison, Monmouth and Mountain Valley as a home team on the losing end. The Black Bears of the KVAC will host the MVC’s lone surviving squad, No. 8 Hall-Dale, in the semifinals.
“They do have good shooters,” St. Dom’s coach Alicia Pelletier said. “The fact that we had shut them down to that point is a testament to how well we had played up to that point.”
Perkins’ goal was redemption after she was called for tripping St. Dom’s striker Faith Grady inside the 18-yard box, giving the Saints a penalty kick with 18:10 to go. Hailey Eason produced the run by saving a ball from going out of bounds at midfield.
Grady’s bid soared high and to the right of the cage.
“That could have been a changer, right there,” Maranacook coach Mike Morin said.
Earlier in the half, Grady’s blast courtesy of Johnson hit the post.
Grady also covered the length of the field after pouncing on a loose ball at the end of a Maranacook corner kick. Black Bears goalkeeper Liz D’Angelo perfectly timed sliding breakup prevented a full-fledged shot and kept the Saints off the board.
“In all honesty, if we converted on the shots we should have converted on, it would have been a whole different game,” Pelletier said. “That’s what it boils down to is we missed the chances we had. If we don’t miss those, it’s a different game, and it doesn’t matter what happens (on the Maranacook goal).”
Less than a minute after the penalty kick, Johnson collided with Perkins and immediately grabbed her neck as she lay on the turf.
Pelletier and the athletic trainer quickly assessed the injury and called for an ambulance. By then, Johnson was sitting up and audibly protesting that she wanted to remain in the game.
Johnson later walked into the rescue vehicle to a loud ovation. After a brief consultation in the parking lot, she returned to the field and watched the remainder of the game from the St. Dom’s bench.
“Just taking the extra precaution,” Pelletier said. “You have to.”
Morin tried to keep Perkins and the rest of the team loose, having them run in place until the officials gave both teams five minutes to warm up before the game resumed.
The coach also tried not to give much additional advice.
“She can shoot the ball really well. I didn’t want her to psyche herself out sitting on the bench. She was thinking about it an awful lot, which was kind of hard not to do,” Morin said. “I tend to leave that up to her as to what she kicks. If I’m going to tell them, I’ll tell them far post, but if she feels she has a shot at it, go ahead and take it.”
St. Dom’s keeper Nicole Robitaille partially blocked the low, line-drive kick but couldn’t stop it from hooking inside the post.
Robitaille made 11 saves.
Lillie McLaughlin and Sarah Clough produced numerous scoring chances prior to Perkins’ breakthrough for the Black Bears. Zeroes remained on the scoreboard, due in large part to St. Dom’s defensive stalwart Sam Ladd, who broke up all six Maranacook corner kicks and interrupted numerous other opportunities.
Maranacook outshot St. Dom’s 9-1 in the first half and 21-8 overall.
“We started out well. The first half was great for us, and I thought we had it in the bag, right there,” Perkins said. “The second half we started great and then we just kind of fell hard. Then we kind of got it back up after that goal.”
Hampered by a noticeable limp, Grady fought until the final seconds, beating two Maranacook defenders and nearly producing the equalizer. Nobody could get a foot on the service, however, and the ball trickled out of play as time expired.
“I felt comfortable through the whole game, because we seemed to possess and carry play,” Morin said, “but with a girl like that who can get a shot on goal at just about any time, you just never know.”