Previously Unbeaten Jasper Drops State Semifinal In Heartbreaking Fashion, 4-3
GEORGETOWN -- Jasper coach Gabriela Carter tried her best to console sophomore goalkeeper Yvette Carter following the Lady Bulldogs' first loss of the season.
It wasn't just another loss.
Princeton scored twice in the final six minutes of regulation to knock off top-ranked and previously unbeaten Jasper, 4-3, Wednesday afternoon in a Class 4A girls state semifinal at Birkelbach Field.
"She was saying she was sorry," Coach Carter said of her goalie. "I said, 'you have nothing to be sorry about because you saved so many more.' She had a great game, and I said, 'focus on that, this year you grew and every year you're growing. You did your best, and that's all I ask for.'"
Jasper (26-1) looked to be in good shape to advance to Thursday's state championship match when senior Emmalee Carter broke free and scored for a 3-2 Lady Bulldogs lead with a little more than 20 minutes remaining.
But Princeton (22-4-2), which will face Kennedale (23-2-1) at 2:30 Thursday for the title, scored the equalizer with 6:17 to play and put in the game-winner with just 35 seconds remaining.
It was an extraordinarily difficult way to suffer the first loss of the year, in which Jasper had allowed just 13 goals total -- only two in the playoffs -- coming into Wednesday's semifinal.
"They have nothing to be ashamed about," Coach Carter said of her team. "Look how far we've come; no other Jasper team has come here, so that's something to be a part of."
Emmalee Carter's tally gave Jasper its second lead of the game, 3-2, and the Lady Bulldogs had a chance to extend the advantage to two goals moments later when freshman Natalia Zavala just missed to the left of the goal.
"We really needed that, but hey, things happen and you've just got to go with what you're dealt with," Coach Carter said. "We came back and tried to get more, but we ran out of time."
From that moment on, nearly all of the action occurred on the other side of the field, and Princeton found the tying goal in the 74th minute.
Princeton freshman Jaymee Dotson had her shot ricochet off the right post, and the ball trickled just beyond the goal line, a split-second before Jasper goalie Yvette Carter could corral it.
"We were trying to keep it tight back there, so we wouldn't let (Dotson) in, but they pressed and wanted the equalizer; they wanted to tie it up," Coach Carter said.
The Jasper goalie was peppered with a couple of shots from Princeton in the following minutes, but with less than 60 seconds remaining, the Lady Panthers found the game-winner.
Sophomore midfielder Melissa Bewley's throw-in led to a Princeton shot and Jasper save, but Kensey Thomas was there for the rebound and her shot was true.
Both teams entered the second half even at 1-1, and Zavala scored her second goal of the match to give the Lady Bulldogs their first lead of the match in the 42nd minute.
Ten minutes later, Princeton's Bewley was taken down in the box and awarded a free kick, which she put in the net, tying the game at 2-2.
"All I know is that (Bewley) learned forward trying to get a head on it, and that's it," Coach Carter said. "That's all I really saw; I was wondering what the call was, actually."
Jasper recovered to regain the lead once again with about 20 minutes remaining, but the Lady Bulldogs couldn't overcome Princeton's push in the final six minutes.
"These girls came in with a lot of heart, a lot of talent, and a lot of determination to achieve the goals that they set," Coach Carter said. "Unfortunately today, we didn't get to that last goal. But hey, we're where no other Jasper team has come, and we put our name out there. Surely, no one will forget us. We're gonna work hard and try to come back next year."