Lady Hounds get first ever Southeast title

Randolph scores goal in 2nd OT period to seal championship


FORT MADISON – Carrie Burken figured there was no sense trying to escape the dousing of cold water that was coming her way.
Burken’s Fort Madison girls soccer team had just played almost 100 minutes on the hottest day of the season, and the coach figured she could outrun her exhausted players.
But why fight the celebration?
“Honestly, in my mind I thought I could run away from them, and they couldn’t catch me, because they were so tired,” Burken said, smiling. “I just thought, I’ll stop and let them do it.
“It did feel good.”
So it did.
The 4-3 win over Mount Pleasant on Monday night at the Baxter Sports Complex helped the Bloodhounds clinch at least a share of the Southeast Conference title for the first time in program history.
Natalie Randolph’s goal with 1:58 remaining in the second overtime was the game winner, the final goal on a day when the Bloodhounds had to fight back from a 2-0 first-half deficit and a 3-2 margin in the second half.
“It’s amazing to have the first conference championship for this team,” Randolph said. “It shows how far we’ve come.”
Teammates swarmed Randolph after the goal. Burken jumped high in the air, and began running to look for someone to join in her celebration.
“I was looking for someone to hug,” Burken said.
Then she turned to the few players standing around.
“I was looking for someone to hug!” Burken said, laughing.
It had been a long day.
Randolph had tied the match at 3 with 10:09 left in the second half with a breakaway goal from the left side. Neither team would score in the first overtime, and with time running out in the second extra period it looked like the match might go to penalty kicks.
The Bloodhounds’ last charge came down the right side. Teagan Snaadt’s shot was knocked away by Mount Pleasant goalkeeper Evelyn Escobar, but Randolph punched the rebound into the net.
“I knew Teagan was amazing at crosses, and I always try to be on the back post whenever I can,” Randolph said. “She had that great shot, and I was there for the rebound.”
The fight for the Bloodhounds (10-2 overall, 9-1 conference) had been a long one. They were down 2-0 in the first six minutes after two Mount Pleasant goals in a 14-second span.
“We started to get down on ourselves,” Randolph said. “But we knew there was so much time left on the clock. We had to come together, connect on passes, do everything we could.”
“I was definitely concerned,” Burken said. “I thought, this could go really bad, or we could get one goal and get momentum going. Fortunately, that’s the way it went.”
That first goal came from Snaadt, who punched in a shot from the right side with 19:34 left in the half.
Fort Madison tied the match 3 1/2 minutes into the second half on Alana Simpson’s goal from the left side, but Mount Pleasant (7-5, 5-4) took the lead back 12 minutes later on a goal from Andrea Lopreato.
Randolph, though, was able to tie the match.
“Oh, huge,” Burken said of the goal. “Huge, huge, huge.”
“It was a momentum changer,” Randolph said. “After that, we really started to connect.”
It’s that connection that brought the Bloodhounds their crown.
“I was thinking about this question yesterday, about if we won and what it would mean,” Burken said. “It’s been such a long journey.
“It’s about coming together, Holy Trinity and Fort Madison. It’s about working together, toward a common goal. It shows how far we’ve come as a program. But it also shows the effort they’ve made to work together and to fight for one another. I think it means a lot for them, and for me it means a lot for what they are doing.”

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