That was just one of many positive mantras Scott Dolan was known for, and it was the perfect way to describe Monday evening’s clash between #8 Oliver Ames and #9 Franklin.
Eighty minutes wasn’t enough to decide the physical contest between the two league rivals, with neither team willing to give an inch.
But finally, in the 89th minute, OA sophomore Allison Evin delivered the game-winner with a perfectly struck shot to the far post, just sneaking inside the far post into the side netting to give the Tigers a 1-0 emotional overtime win over the Panthers.
“I felt like we could score one goal we had a chance,” said Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer. “The last time [Franklin] gave up a goal was forever ago. They had 12 shutouts in the last 13 games and the only team that scored against them was KP and they only got two. They are just so hard to break down because they have such quality players back there.”
Dolan, a longtime OA assistant coach, passed away last week after a courageous battle with cancer at the age of 48. Whether it was at the high school, with Legacy Soccer Club, Easton Youth Soccer, or a local camp or clinic, Dolan had a strong impact on all the members of this year’s Tigers squad. Even when Dolan worked at the college level, he was always on the OA sideline for the playoffs.
“I’m just very happy for the girls, it’s been a very emotional week,” Sellmayer said. “Come tournament time, Scotty would always be here. I could say something that they’ve heard all year long but I could have Scotty tell them and they’d listen. And then he’d be there to help me with my coaching too.
“A kid could make the worst play in the world and Scotty would say ‘Hey darling, don’t worry about it, this is what you have to do.’ And make them feel like a million bucks. Just a big booming voice, just a super guy.”
Evin’s game-winner was the first goal that the Tigers scored against the Panthers this season. The two sides battled to a scoreless tie in Easton in early October while the Panthers earned a 2-0 decision in one of the final games of the season.
“We won one, we tied one, and now they’ve won one so you can’t get much more even than that,” said longtime Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “[Oliver Ames] was the better team tonight. They were able to force us into some things that we haven’t done since the beginning of the year, so kudos to them.”
Chances were few and far between throughout the 80 minutes of regulation. The Tigers had five corners and put four shots on net but all were handled by Franklin keeper Bre Atwood. OA keeper Emily Meyers was equal to the task, handling four corners and three shots on goal by the Panthers.
Sophomore Lauren Sellmayer connected with classmate Camryn O’Connor on a throw, but her cross was partially blocked. That led to a clearance from the defense but it was intercepted by Evin just outside the area. She took a touch around a defender and rifled a shot just out of the reach of Atwood’s diving attempt to give the Tigers a win.
“That was [a big girl soccer goal],” Sellmayer said. “[Evin] cramped up and I was sitting her for a little bit but in overtime, we just went with it. There were moments Allison wasn’t giving us a lot of defense but she couldn’t move. It was a trade-off so we went for it.”
The limited number of chances had a lot to do with strong defense from both sides. Even when it looked like there might be a chance for a shot, a defender would often intervene.
Evin and O’Connor linked up in the 10th minute with the latter giving the hosts their first shot on goal. Atwood tipped away a corner kick from Abby Hodges in the 28th minute and came up big again in the 35th minute when OA’s Emma Pereira lofted a ball over the defense but Franklin’s Sabrina Addi help shield the ball and the keeper was there before Erin Holmberg could pounce.
Franklin’s Riley Fitzpatrick got in behind the defense in the 9th minute but Pereira was quick to get back and win possession back. Sydney St. Marie sent a shot just wide of the net in the 21st minute, and Erin Quaile’s bid from distance was handled easily in the 32nd minute.
Panther freshman Norah Anderson made a terrific recovery in the 58th minute, getting back in time to take away a shot from Holmberg from inside the area. On the other end, Franklin’s Sam Powderly smashed a shot wide of the post after taking down a clearance.
The Tigers were close to a winner in regulation when Katie Gibson linked up with Holmberg at the far post but her point-blank chance was saved by Atwood to keep the game scoreless and force overtime.
“We talked about it halftime but we weren’t able to do it…we needed to play the ball wide over the defender, and the forwards who made the initial pass need to make a run,” Geysen said. “But we never got the ball up in the air and make them change them what they were doing.”
A nice give-and-go between Quaile and Carly Alston resulted in the former putting a shot on target to start the overtime period, but that would be it in the attacking end for Franklin.
Two minutes later, OA almost had a winner when a ball was played into the area that eluded Atwood, causing a little scrum in front of the net but Anna Balkus and Bridgette Ginley helped clear the line and keep it out.
After starting the season with one win in its first four games, Franklin lost just once in its final 13 games. And in the span, the Panthers allowed just three goals.
“We started 1-3 and I wasn’t sure how the rest of the season would go,” Geysen said. “We made the change to put Anna [Balkus] in the back and that changed the whole defensive scheme for us. That’s when we started to play better. If you play well defensively, you’re in every game. We only gave up two goals twice, the first was an early game to Canton and the second one was KP, and they’ll score two on anybody.”