St. Paul's spoiled St. Mary's AIS debut yesterday.
The No. 6 Gators rallied from two goals down with five minutes left to edge No. 2 St. Mary's, 11-10, in an AIS A Division non-league game. Laura Peace scored the game-winner on a feed from Sarah Oglesby with 48 seconds left.
Already, the Saints (4-1) are hoping to see the Gators (4-1) again come tournament time. Until this spring, the Saints played an independent schedule and have never been in a postseason game.
"It's a big deal that we're going to get into the playoffs," said Saints senior midfielder Kellie Thompson. "We'll get to play these teams again. It's not just one game and then it's over with."
The Saints certainly would like to play this one again. They didn't help themselves by committing five offensive charges and drawing six yellow cards, mostly for checks to the head.
But their biggest problems came in the opening minutes when they struggled to maintain possession. St. Paul's took advantage, scarfing up loose balls and striking quickly on transition. The Gators ran up a 6-1 lead on their first six shots.
The Saints finally got rolling with three goals to end the first half. Thompson hit Kate Hardesty to pull within 4-3 but missed the chance to pull closer when she jumped the whistle on a free position 25 seconds before the half.
The roll continued into the second half with four more goals for an 8-6 lead with 18: 27 left. While the Saints rallied, the Gators missed nine shots and went more than 18 minutes without a goal.
"It was hard to get the momentum back," said Gators coach Traci Magness. "St. Mary's came back so strong and they were doing exactly what we had done to them -- beating us in transition. Then we had to try to make that adjustment. Both of us were constantly trying to adjust and re-adjust."
Peace and Kate Ahearn tied it, but the Saints answered with back-to-back free-position goals by Tiffany Schummer and Thompson for a 10-8 lead with 5: 41 to go.
Then the Gators rallied by winning three of the last four draws, taking two charges and controlling the loose balls just as they had in the early going.
Francoise Gordon cut the lead to one and Lanie Pappas hit Mills Hook to tie with 1: 10 left. Oglesby then won a ground ball and passed to Peace for the game-winner.
The Gators were able to stall away most of the last minute after Pappas outreached Schummer to win the final draw.
"It was our first AIS game and we had a lot to get used to," said Saints senior Michelle Zurfluh, "but we knew what we were coming into. They've got great players on their team. They're a great team. They've got speed, quickness and they had a lot of good accurate shots. We just didn't expect to play the way we did."
Pub Date: 4/04/97