GARNER — Bayleigh Adams scored a golden goal with 2:25 left in sudden death overtime to give Garner a 2-1 win over Knightdale in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls soccer playoffs on Wednesday.
Adams’ strike came on an opportunistic dish from senior forward Taylor Cooke, who had successfully drawn Knightdale keeper Josie Sargent out of position.
“I saw a great one-two pass,” said Adams, a senior midfielder. “The goalie came right out to Taylor and she passed it right in to me, and I had a wide open goal.”
The matchup was different than when the two Greater Neuse River 4A Conference teams met in the regular season, in that the Trojans had never seen Sargent in goal. That’s because Sargent was a career softball player who was able to join her twin and defensive captain Abbie Sargent on the soccer squad as a substitute goalie since the softball team’s season had ended.
She held her own with 13 saves to take Garner (13-5-1) into sudden death.
“This was my first game, because I’ve been playing softball (all spring),” said Josie Sargent, who covered center field for the Knights. “We (the softball players) are out of season now, so I just stepped in.”
Sargent relished the unexpected opportunity to appear in a spring playoff game for the Knights. She described her experience in net as nerve-racking.
“It was like the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said. “Different sports, the balls are completely different. And I play outfield, so it’s not like they’re coming at me like that.”
Garner tallied five goals in its previous two wins over Knightdale combined, but came up empty-handed during Wednesday’s regulation.
The first goal of the match came when Garner’s Michaela Wycoff sliced a pass across the mouth of Knightdale’s net, where freshman forward Grace Bondurant was waiting to finish with 8:31 left in the first, 10-minute overtime period.
The Knights (10-9) looked deflated when they returned to the field for the second overtime period, but the team was revived by an exceptional effort on the part of Knightdale sophomore Tori Leech. She caught a Garner defender off guard near the end line, stealing both the ball and a goal to forced the five-minute, sudden death period.
Knights coach Collin Dalton attributed an 80-minute shutout to Sargent’s efforts between the pipes. Trojans head coach Joe Dennis also complimented the unorthodox strategy employed against his team.
“They picked up another player who was very good for them in their goalie, which was smart of coach Dalton,” Dennis said.
With the win, Garner moved on to face another conference foe, West Johnston, in the second round. The Wildcats defeated Southern Alamance 3-2 in the opening round.