By Nelson Coffin
Depending on one’s perspective, Saturday’s B Conference indoor soccer finale at Clarence “Du” Burns Arena in Canton between top-seeded Our Lady of Mount Carmel and second-seeded Roland Park Country School either elicited feelings of unbridled happiness or abject heartbreak.
There was no middle ground.
Facing a two-goal deficit with under a minute remaining in regulation, the Reds somehow managed to score twice in a 13-second span to send the game into overtime before winning, 6-5, on sophomore Kylie White’s “golden goal” with 2:51 left in overtime.
Thrilling doesn’t quite describe the wild action as time slipped off the clock, although the entire game was played with flair and passion by both sides.
Roland Park jumped out to a 1-0 lead on freshman midfielder Amani Green’s first goal of the game in the fourth minute.
Junior midfielder Demi Connor assisted Ashley Conway on the first of a game-high four goals for the senior forward to start a 3-0 run for the Cougars.
Junior midfielder Taylor Mazan nailed the next goal on a free kick before Conway made it 3-1 after a scramble in front of the goal midway through the opening period.
The Reds inched closer when junior forward Nia Green ripped in a goal as the ball squirted away from Mount Carmel sophomore keeper Cassidy Fitzpatrick moments after she made a brilliant diving save.
Conway had time and room to power in a shot for a 4-2 Cougar advantage with 12 minutes to go in the final period before sophomore defender Bella Hessler sliced into the deficit for Roland Park off a feed from Amani Green, whose heroics were only beginning.
After Conway seemingly put the game out of reach by converting a pass from freshman defender Gracen Drake in the 46th minute, the 5-3 lead remained intact until the Reds pushed forward with abandon in the final minute.
That’s when White, assisted by Amani Green, one-timed a shot past Fitzpatrick with 47 second to go.
Amani Green’s equalizer 13 seconds later was a thing of beauty, as she maneuvered her way through a crowd, turned and fired a high, hard shot that found the corner.
In OT, White was again Kylie-on-the-spot after Nia Green’s shot was turned away by the alert Fitzpatrick with a lunging dive.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, White pounced on the rebound and sent it home to set off a wild celebration of joy on one side and disbelief on the other.
Roland Park coach Nate Whitman said that his team faced a similar circumstance against Mount de Sales Academy last fall in a B Conference semifinal and survived that one as well on the way to an unbeaten season.
Green and White also worked their magic in that outing, he said.
“We just have a ton of character,” Whitman said. “This team has only had one day off since the start of outdoor practice in August. They’re just incredibly dedicated.”
He praised Conway for her ability to score early and often.
“She was a force in every game she played against us,” he said. “When she wasn’t scoring goals, it was her shots that other people scored off. She just has a killer right foot.”
White and Amani Green were just as instrumental for their team's success.
White said that she felt a responsibility to her team to get the job done.
“I took a shot that hit off the goalie and then Nia Green swooped in and took another shot,” she said. “I just put it in.”
Amani Green said that “my team pushes me to do my best. They were counting on me.”
And she delivered, big-time.