BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – Lightning struck, figuratively, with six minutes left in the first half of 9th-ranked Holy Trinity Catholic’s girls regional soccer game when senior Taylor Boeding blistered in a shot from about 23 feet out to break a 1-1 tie with Mid-Prairie.
Lightning struck, literally, about 10 minutes into the second half putting an end to any comeback hopes the Lady Hawks may have been entertaining.
The severe storms that keep pounding the southeast portion of the state rolled over South Park at about 6:45 p.m. bringing wind and rain, but it was a lightning bolt in the northwest sky that sent fans headed for the concession area. Officials called the game about 10 minutes later after reviewing storm radar.
The Crusaders held control of the ball for almost the entire game allowing just sporadic ventures into HTC keeper Sam Pothitakis’ territory.
The first of which came in a scoreless game with 15:19 left in the first half. Senior midfielder Mya Lawlor went to intercept a forward pass from Mid-Prairie but had the ball crawl up her leg and catch her forearm.
Freshman Kaitlin Martin lined up the penalty kick directly in front of Pothitakis and shot the ball high into the back of the net for a 1-0 Lady Hawks’ lead.
But sophomore Claire Pothitakis would rally the Crusaders by circling the midfield shaking off Mid-Prairie defenders in HTC’s next possession and slipping the ball up the right side to Elle Rashid who punched it in from about five feet out with the Lady Hawks’ Emily Swartzentruber leaning the wrong way, to tie it up at 1 with 9:01 left in the first half of play.
After a couple minutes of Mid-Prairie trying to clear the ball to their side of the field, Nicole Pothitakis, playing some solid mid-field defense, picked up a 50/50 ball and lofted it over the defense to Boeding who dribbled up a couple feet and launched what proved to be the game-winning goal from the right side.
Neither team was able to get the ball in the net for the rest of the half.
The Crusaders missed on three attempts in the first half just wide of the goal as they worked to get their bearings. With 19:18 left in the half, Claire Pothitakis couldn’t catch up to a pass to the left side of the goal that just missed the left post.
Less than 90 seconds later HTC missed again just left and low off a pass from the right side that no one could catch up to. Elle Rashid would miss just wide right at the 14-minute mark after Pothitakis slid a pass into the interior box. Four minutes later the Crusaders would finally get on the board.
In the second half at the 35:50 mark, Pothitakis would catch a deep pass from the right off her forehead that went straight up. She was able to corral the ball with her right foot, and then with some tricky feet, would dribble past the Mid-Prairie defender and punish a shot from about 18 feet out on the left into the right side of the net to give the Crusaders a 3-1 lead, and some breathing room with storm clouds looming.
Pothitakis almost pulled the hat trick, again, when less than a minute later she sent another ball in from the left that nailed the left post and bounced back into play.
In the same series, Pothitakis regained control of the ball and sent a pass into the box that got popped up into the air where Rashid was standing about three feet out and headed it into the net in what appeared to make it a 4-1 game. However after being signaled a goal, the referees conferred and called an offside on HTC nullifying the goal with 33:42 left.
After a few more exchanges on the HTC side of the field and one effort into the Lady Hawks’ side of the field, lightning was observed and officials called for stoppage before the game was abandoned about 15 minutes later.
The Crusaders will take on the winner of the Centerville/Pella Christian match which was postponed until Wednesday night at 6 p.m.