MELBOURNE, Fla. — Darton goalkeeper Hong Tran had one of two choices: dive to her left or her right.
She dove right — and the result was a thrilling win in sudden-death penalty kicks for the Lady Cavs in Monday’s NJCAA national tournament opener against Owens (Ohio) Community College.
The teams were tied at 1-1 after regulation and entered penalty kicks with five shots per team. However, Darton and Owens both hit all five of their shots, sending the game into sudden-death penalty kicks.
Janay Campbell netted the first sudden-death shot for the Lady Cavs, and moments later Tran deflected Taylor Avers’ kick to clinch the victory.
“I was trying to convey to (Tran) that she was reacting to the shots instead of picking your spot and diving and guessing,” Darton coach Ken Veilands said. “She finally did and made the save.”
No. 4 seed Darton got two points for the victory, while No. 9 Owens received one point, which means the Lady Cavs will need an outright victory Wednesday against No. 5 Butler (Kan.) Community College to clinch a spot in the national semifinals and avoid a confusing tie-breaking scenario.
Veilands said the Lady Cavs, who are now 21-1 and on a 13-game winning streak, will need to play better against a talented Butler team.
“We didn’t play near our potential (Monday),” Veilands said. “I don’t think we approached the game with the competitive maturity that we needed to. I think they overlooked this team, and I made it clear to them that Owens has a great team and would be tough.”
The game was scoreless at halftime before Brianna Lemerise scored on an assist from Eleana Colvin at the beginning of the second half. Owens tied the game with 14 minutes left in the regulation, and it stayed tied until Tran’s winning save.