For Bob­cats, last mo­ment is the best

BAT­TLE­FIELD 2, COX 1 (4 OT)

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY BRAN­DON PARKER bran­don.parker@wash­post.com

Typ­i­cally when Becca Cal­li­son heads to the side­line for a cor­ner kick, there’s a process she must un­dergo. Af­ter bend­ing over to tug her socks back above her shin guards, the Bat­tle­field mid­fielder uses her fore­arm to wipe the sweat from her brow.

But as the last sec­onds wore off the clock in the fourth and fi­nal over­time of Satur­day’s Vir­ginia 6A girls’ soc­cer state fi­nal against Cox, there was nei­ther time for prepa­ra­tion nor panic. “Just get the kick off,” Cal­li­son yelled in­side of her mind.

Re­ly­ing on her nat­u­ral aim to­ward the far post, the se­nior lofted the kick, set­ting off a mad scram­ble in front of the net. First, team­mate Ge­or­gia Matthews headed the ball. Then a Cox de­fender de­flected it. But ul­ti­mately, as the clock struck 1.7 sec­onds, Kayla Ham­ric reared back her left foot for a shot into the back of the net, send­ing the Bob­cats to a 2-1 win at Robin­son and their sec­ond straight state cham­pi­onship in thrilling fash­ion.

“This is like a movie,” a stunned Cal­li­son kept re­peat­ing to her team­mates dur­ing the on-field cel­e­bra­tion. “Things like that don’t hap­pen in real life.”

A harsh dose of re­al­ity had nearly stung the Bob­cats (212-1) in the sec­ond half. De­spite con­trol­ling pos­ses­sion and set­ting up op­por­tu­nity af­ter op­por­tu­nity near the Fal­cons’ goal, it was Bat­tle­field that trailed af­ter Alex David­son squeaked a 30-yard free kick just un­der the cross­bar in the 49th minute.

Bat­tle­field’s near-misses against Cox (19-4) con­tin­ued un­til the fi­nal three min­utes of reg­u­la­tion, when Matthews again in­ter­cepted a Cal­li­son cor­ner kick — only this time, the ju­nior’s ini­tial at­tempt found its way into the goal.

“We knew the goals were out there be­cause we were get­ting good looks,” Bob­cats Coach Kevin Hil­ton said. “We just had to connect on them.”

The stale­mate con­tin­ued through nearly four over­time pe­ri­ods, plac­ing Bat­tle­field on the cusp of a penalty shootout in the state fi­nal for a sec­ond straight year. But thanks to Cal­li­son, who had mis­fired on a cor­ner kick about 45 sec­onds ear­lier, and Ham­ric’s hero­ics, the Bob­cats were able to by­pass chance and re­claim the cham­pi­onship once more.

JOHN MCDON­NELL/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Bat­tle­field’s Ge­or­giaMatthews heads a cor­ner kick into the net to tie the score at 1 and help send the state fi­nal into over­time. Matthews also played a key role on Kay­laHam­ric’s game-win­ner for the Bob­cats.

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