FORT MILL — A second half rally by the Clover Lady Blue Eagles resulted in a 3-2 win over Nation Ford as the game ended with sophomore Sierra Hartman converting the game winner on penalty kicks in sudden death.
Coming into the game, both teams were ranked in the top 15 in the state, with Nation Ford was ranked 15th and Clover just behind at 14th.
But what was more important was where things stood in the region, as the Lady Falcons looked to stay perfect and Clover trying to get back above .500. Nation Ford was tied with Northwestern in the top of the region standings coming into the game.
“We have done all right in the conference,” said Nation Ford head coach Rob Dalton. “But we have been up and down this season, [and] today we were down. We didn’t defend very well.”
Nation Ford looked to have the win secured with about 30 seconds to go in the game leading 2-1 when Clover senior Samantha Pantuosco scored the second of her two goals in regulation to tie the game and send it into overtime.
After a scoreless overtime period, things went to penalty kicks, where both teams trade goals back and forth until the Lady Falcons missed their last two attempts, setting up Hartman for the game-winner.
The second half started much like the first as each squad looked to gain an edge. Then about seven minutes into the second half, Clover took a shot that resulted in a diving save by Nation Ford sophomore keeper Mary Paterson.
The Lady Blue Eagles were more aggressive on offense in the second half, controlling the ball more so than in the first half. This forced the Lady Falcons to stay on their toes defensively, which resulted in one occasion with a collision near the goal by Paterson, a teammate and a Clover player.
However, Nation Ford kept Clover from scoring at that point and from letting the momentum swing too much in its direction.
But there was only so much the Lady Falcons could do as Clover finally cracked the scoreboard when Pantuosco scored with about 18 minutes left in the game to cut the Nation Ford lead in half.
Both squads looked to gain an early advantage at the start of the game, but ended up battling for control of the ball. The Lady Falcons took some early looks at the goal, but despite luring Clover keeper Brandi Cornelio out of the box, couldn’t capitalize in the early going. Cornelio had four saves during regulation and two key ones on penalty kicks.
Nation Ford controlled possession after about 10 minutes into the game, but couldn’t set anything up despite several throw-in attempts.
Clover’s defense held strong and packed the Nation Ford box preventing anything from slipping in.
Offensively, the Lady Blue Eagles had trouble moving the ball forward through the first 20 minutes of the game.
It wasn’t long afterwards that a penalty against Clover set up a kick by the Lady Falcons and senior Emma Shearer got the ball into the back of the net to put Nation Ford up 1-0.
Clover made a critical mistake about a minute later after a corner kick by the Lady Falcons. During a scramble in the box, a Lady Blue Eagles defender accidently knocked the ball in for the Nation Ford goal putting them up 2-0.
Clover’s best attempt to score in the first half was during a free kick after a hand ball was called against Nation Ford, but the attempt went off the Lady Falcons’ wall.
Clover 3, Nation Ford 2 (PK)
(Clover wins 6-5 on penalty kicks)
Clover0 2 – 2
Nation Ford 2 0 – 2
NF – Emma Shearer, 23:17
NF – own goal by Clover, 24:20
C – Samantha Pantuosco, 63:10
C – Pantuosco, 79:30
Corner kicks: Clover 2, Nation Ford 3
Shots on goal: Clover 10, Nation Ford 8
Saves: Brandi Cornelio (C) 6, Mary Paterson (NF) 7
Records: Clover 6-4-2, 3-2 Region III-AAAA; Nation Ford 7-4-0, 4-1 Region III-AAAA.