Girls soccer: Bulldogs fall to Eagles in overtime

Mar. 27—OTTUMWA — For the second time in three seasons, the Ottumwa girls soccer team carried a 1-0 lead into the second half against Pella Christian.

For the second time in three seasons, the Bulldogs could not hold on to the lead in the second half. Pella Christian rallied to tie Ottumwa in the second half, then found the golden goal in overtime as the Eagles pulled out a 2-1 season-opening win as Annika Van Dyke buried the game-winning shot from over 20 yards out through the wind on a chilly night at Schafer Stadium."Give credit to Ottumwa. We've played them the last couple of years and they've gotten better every year," Pella Christian head girls soccer coach Mike Buchheit said. "We lost our top two leading scorers from last year, so we're going to have to try and find our offense as the season goes on. We shortened up the rotation in the second half to try and play off some of our experience. We have eight seniors back from last year. They played a lot of minutes, especially in the second half."Pella Christian spent most of the match on the attack, keeping the ball in Ottumwa territory throughout nine of the first 10 minutes. The Eagles, however, managed only one shot during that stretch and failed to convert on a pair of corner kicks keeping the match scoreless.Once the Bulldogs finally got the ball across midfield, Ottumwa needed just one shot to put the first goal of the season on the scoreboard. Mia Garza-Trejo, the program's top goal scorer entering her senior season, struck a shot that drifted past Pella Christian goalie Maddy Van Zee in the 19th minute giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead."The way the match started, I thought we might be in for a long night. Then, we started to dominate the rest of the first half," Ottumwa head girls soccer coach Matthew Erlandson said. "We've got good soccer players. They can pass the ball. They can move the ball. We just had to put it all together from the back to the front."Blythe Schmidt kept Ottumwa in front throughout the first 50 minutes, making seven saves in her varsity debut as the starting goalie for Bulldogs. Esther Ford, however, was able to find the back of the net, sinking a free kick in the 52nd minute for the Eagles to even the score at 1-1."The wind seemed to kind of hold up that ball. I think it probably would have gone over in the other direction otherwise," Erlandson said. "We still have to make the play and make the save. That's a dangerous place to have a foul right outside the box. It was either going to be a free kick or a penalty kick. I thought we were let off the hook just to allow a free kick, but it wound up being the same result."Both Ottumwa (0-1) and Pella Christian (1-0) would make deep runs in the final 30 minutes of regulation, but neither team could find the back of the net sending the chilly opener into an extra period. Aside from the opening kick that was sent into Pella Christian territory, the Bulldogs never got the ball back over the 50-yard line as the Eagles kept the pressure on.Garza-Trejo would exit the game three minutes into overtime after suffering a cramp after slipping on the turf in a battle for the ball. Addison Knaak would lose possession of the ball two minutes later for the Bulldogs trying to split a double team, leading to a pass that found Van Dyke open 25 yards away from the goal leading to a shot that sailed past Schmidt just over five minutes into overtime to clinch the comeback for the Eagles."At the end, we found each other's feet a lot better than we did throughout the rest of the match," Van Dyke said. "I was actually yelling at one of my teammates to take the shot. Instead, she passed it to me. I was open and took the shot. It felt good to see it go in."Both Ottumwa and Pella Christian are scheduled to be back in action on Thursday. Pella Christian heads to Albia, who earned a 6-1 win over Clarke behind a hat trick from Sydney Hoskins in the debut of the Lady Dee girls soccer program, while Ottumwa is back home to host Burlington at Schafer Stadium starting at 6 p.m.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.