September 29, 2010
We've shown you plenty of late-game heroics -- or in one North Carolina case, late-half heroics -- but all have come from great football games. Well, this highlight branches out, thanks to a miraculous, late free kick in an Ohio girls soccer game a little more than a week ago.
Down 3-1 to Hillsboro at halftime, the Wilmington girls soccer team seemed destined to fall to 2-6, all but eliminating it from postseason contention. But Wilmington star Lauren Lewis wasn't done yet, adding two second-half goals as Wilmington's defense stiffened, pushing the game towards a tie with the final seconds ticking away.
That's when Wilmington somehow won a free kick on a penalty just over the Hillsboro side of the field. Without time to think, Amina Affini lined up a 40-yard free kick and gave the ball a boot ... and watched it sail in untouched, slipping above Hillsboro's goalie, who couldn't adjust her positioning from the ball's trajectory in time to keep it out.
The shot hit the back of the net with just 5.4 seconds left, leaving only a kick off and subsequent long ball back to Wilmington's own keeper to salt away an incredibly unlikely victory.
"Abbey Judd had the composure to grab the ball and set it and Amina (Affini) blasted it home," Wilmington girls soccer coach Steve Reed told OhioLockerRoom.com. "We had to overcome some mediocre first half play but in the second half the team was on fire."
There's little doubting that Wilmington put together an inspired second-half performance, but its victory will almost certainly be known for one very long-range blast, with just enough time on the clock to qualify it as arguably the most dramatic shot so far this soccer season.
[Instant replay: Overtime thrills and in-state spills]