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Soccer: TWU, Harding play to double-OT draw

Profile image for By Patrick Hayslip
By Patrick Hayslip

When TWU senior defender Tareyn Blanton found freshman forward Tori Crook’s well-placed corner kick and headed it toward the opening in the right side of the goal late in the second overtime period Friday, she thought she had given the Pioneers their third win of the season.

But a Harding defender was able to get on the goal line in enough time to get her chest in front of the ball, and the Pioneers couldn’t punch home the ball as it rattled off the bodies in the box, and they had to settle for a 1-1 tie at home.

“We had that corner and I thought we were going to score,” Blanton said. “It went off our players four or five times, and it sucks not to win on our home field. It was disappointing. We should have won that game, and we shouldn’t have gone to overtime.”

Blanton scored the opening goal for the Pioneers (2-3-1) in the 39th minute as TWU’s offense wore down Harding (1-4-1). Blanton was able to secure the bouncing ball from 40 yards out and send a rising shot that curled inside the right post past an out-of-position goalkeeper.

“I wanted a goal so bad, so I just took it,” Blanton said. “They kept telling me to shoot before the game, and I usually try to dribble it too close instead of taking a shot.”

Despite taking the lead late in the first half, the Pioneers came out flat in the second half. The Lady Bison were able to take advantage of the lack of intensity and even the score in the 53rd minute on a sharp-angled shot by Sierra Hollingsworth. TWU goalkeeper Ariana Morrison couldn’t corral it, as it trickled across the line.

“1-0 and even 2-0 leads are deceiving in soccer, because all it takes is one goal for the other team to get back in it,” TWU coach Babak Abouzar said. “At halftime we knew weren’t comfortable just having a 1-0 lead, and in the previous games we knew that in order to put the game away that we needed to score one or two more goals. I think we had the chances and some good services, we just didn’t make those necessary runs to get on the end of those balls.”

The Pioneers outshot the Lady Bison 17-13, forcing the Harding goalkeeper to make two saves in the final overtime, but Abouzar said his team had chances that it didn’t jump on earlier in the game.

“Our set pieces and corner kicks have been lethal all year long, and it’s one of those things where the ball is bouncing and you don’t get the bounce that you want and you need,” Abouzar said of Friday’s late opportunity. “We’ve had a lot of those go our way, but it’s always disheartening to see a play like that where it’s right there on the goal line. To be honest, we shouldn’t have had to rely on that one play. We had other chances way before overtime that would have given us the win.”

The Pioneers now must refocus and will conclude their three-game homestand at 2 p.m. Sunday against Northwestern Oklahoma State, a team TWU beat 6-0 early last season.

PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.