Last Second Heroics Allow the Lady Jags to Advance to Regional Finals
As regulation time regional in semi-final girls, soccer game between the Northwest Jaguars and the Wootton Patriots came to end the linesman officiating the 1-1 tie was heard to say, “I will bet we are going to play two full 10-minute overtimes, and this will come down to penalty kicks.”
He was half right.
Both teams played two tremendous, physical, and exciting overtime sessions, but Northwest’s Leanna Choo wasn’t having any part of penalty kicks.
Northwest’s Coach Josh Kinnetz had the sophomore on the bench for a breather. She had been playing most of the game, but she’d been nursing both a cold and sore ankle from an injury suffered earlier in the game.
On a Northwest throw-in, Kinnetz substituted Choo into the game with roughly 4:44 seconds remaining in the second OT. Four minutes and 34 seconds later, Choo would end the game.
With less than 10 seconds remaining in the second overtime, the Choo caught up to a beautiful through-ball from junior midfielder Samantha Sekscienski and raced with the ball on her feet while being pursued by Wootton’s Meredith Murdock. Murdock ran stride-for-side with Choo, hounding her for the ball. Choo deftly kept the ball far enough in front to avoid Murdock’s attempts to kick it away.
With time ticking away and the possibilities of a well-fought match being left to the often unjust fates of penalty kicks, Choo struck. Just inside the 18-yard penalty box, Choo poked the ball with her left foot, and it sailed up and over the outstretched arms of Wootton’s goalkeeper, Andie Stave in into the back of the net.
The scoreboard clock read .5 seconds remaining, as Choo was mobbed by her teammates and coaches in a victory celebration.
“Leanna has a way to find the ball,” said Kinnetz. “She has a soccer intelligence about her, and she found the ball in a big spot.”
“My adrenaline was pumping, and my leg was hurting,” said Choo. “I saw Sam running with the ball, and I noticed I was open, so I started screaming for the ball. I just turned and saw the goalie and shot it.”
The Lady Jags came into Friday night’s game at Gaithersburg High School with a record of 9-1-1, coming off a 2-1 first-round playoff win over Quince Orchard. While the Patriots were 8-4, with a 4-2 first-round victory over Clarksburg.