by Brian Bohne
HERITAGE HILLS 1
FOREST PARK 1
(HH wins 3-2 in PKS)
When one thinks of rival sports teams, a few come to mind.
Cardinals vs Cubs.
Celtics vs Lakers.
Bears vs Packers.
But locally, the Heritage Hills girls soccer team also has a pretty good rivalry with Forest Park.
And when the Lady Pats and Rangers butt heads, it usually goes down to the wire.
Their latest encounter was no exception.
Heritage Hills fought back from a halftime deficit against their neighborhood foes to eventually win in a PK shootout (3-2) after the two squads played to a 1-1 deadlock through regulation and two seven-minute overtime periods last Tuesday night in Bretzville.
Given their history, Lady Patriot coach Andy Fischer expected a highly competitive contest with the host Rangers, and he was happy to see his group come away victorious.
“They’re ranked No. 9 [in class 1A]. They’re a great team. They’re well coached. We’re so close [in proximity] and all the girls know each other. It’s a friendly rivalry,” said the Heritage Hills boss. “It’s not like we hate each other. It’s one where you just want bragging rights. We knew it would be a battle. We had to make some adjustments as the game went on, and we’re happy with the final result.”
Like Fischer, his coaching counterpart also anticipated a tough matchup between the two schools located just 13 miles apart.
“I don’t know how many times this game has gone into overtime. Definitely a few,” added Forest Park coach Brad Weyer. “We’re basically county rivals. We’re PAC rivals. Both teams want it so bad. I knew it would be a battle.”
In fact, the only score in the opening 40 minutes came when the Rangers got an ‘own’ goal with 17:21 left before the intermission after the ball caromed off a Patriot player and into the back of the net.
“With the familiarity among their players and ours, it’s one of those games where you have to have a little bit of luck to score. The teams tend to settle into a pretty good defensive battle,” said Fischer. “You have to have the ball bounce your way.”
The Lady Pats did after halftime.
Still trailing 1-0 nearly 13 minutes into the second half, Heritage Hills junior Hadley Leibering rifled a shot from nearly 40 yards away that hit the top of the crossbar and fell over the line for a goal.
“We’ve got quite a few girls that can rip from deep, and I keep telling them we can’t score unless we shoot,” explained Fischer. “I said when you get that opportunity, I want you to take it deep and we’ll crash. That was a great goal, a big-time momentum changer. It was a nice shot by Hadley. It gave everybody a little bit more confidence.”
Following Leibering’s goal, both teams created a few chances on the offensive end, but defense reigned supreme as neither squad struck for another goal through the final 27 minutes of regulation and two overtime sessions.
That meant penalty kicks and Heritage Hills was able to outscore Forest Park 3-2. Molly Schnieders and Cora Lasher converted the Lady Pats’ second and fourth shot, before Sydney Ayer cashed in on the fifth to seal the win. Meanwhile, Heritage Hills goalie Olivia Cook limited the Rangers to two makes in five attempts.