Shelby Namen did not know precisely how much time remained in regulation -- only the referee, who mans his watch, knows for certain in soccer's stoppage time -- but she knew the clock was running out on her freshman season.
The Service High girls trailed West by one goal in the opening round of the Cook Inlet Conference tournament Thursday -- losing meant season's end -- when Namen delivered a throw-in from the left sideline at Chugiak High's Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium.
The ball ricocheted off a West player and back to Namen, whose laser from the left side curled into the top right corner of the net to forge a tie and get the Cougars to overtime.
Turned out just 10 seconds remained on the referee's watch.
In overtime, Taylor Bomar's early strike lifted Service to a 4-3 victory -- that marked the fourth-seeded Cougars' only lead of the sun-drenched evening -- and a berth in Friday's semifinals against top-seeded Dimond.
Still, it was Namen's gorgeous and timely strike that saved Service's season.
"That last 10 minutes (of regulation) my heart was racing,'' Namen said. "It was pure craziness. I saw the ball rolling toward me and once I hit it, I had tunnel vision.
"I just saw the ball and the corner. My whole world froze. You hope it goes in, but you don't know.''
As she swung her right leg, Namen said her mind filled with thoughts: The smart play is to go for the far corner of the net; should she pass?; and do not shank it.
When Namen's shot struck net, the Cougars celebrated with shrieks and hugs, and a collective sigh of relief. The goal proved even more satisfying for Namen because she has battled back and ankle injuries this season.
"I think that goes to show the game is never over,'' Namen said. "It's definitely an amazing feeling, and I'm definitely calling all my friends tonight.''
Bomar delivered the game winner four minutes into the first of two 10-minute overtime periods. Bomar, who had missed far right on a long, left-footed shot moments before Namen's goal, ripped a right-footed blast for the difference-maker, which also extended her senior year.
The Cougars found themselves in trouble throughout regulation. West gained a 1-0 lead just six minutes into the match when Alex Susich's splendid corner kick from the right side curled into the top corner of the net. Samantha Manzer padded the lead to 2-0 with a shot off the crossbar in the 32nd minute.
Jesslin Wooliver gave the Cougars a good vibe heading into halftime when she scored from the middle of the pitch, after Kerianne Hansen's strong work on the right wing, to cut West's lead to 2-1 just before intermission.
Haleigh Van Allen's goal early in the second half created a 2-2 tie, but Alexandra Rojas-Ayala restored West's lead at 3-2 with her penalty kick in the 65th minute.
Even after Namen's heroics and Bomar's go-ahead goal, Service still faced one particularly heart-stopping moment. Four minutes into the second overtime, with West's Annie Rush doggedly pursuing the ball, Service goalkeeper Samantha Zumbro bolted out in a race to the ball.
The players collided and the ball trickled toward the net -- and bounced squarely off the right post before Service's Mariah Williams cleared it.
E. River 3, Chugiak 1
Eagle River pulled the only upset of the first round, defeating Chugiak 3-1 at Eagle River High.
Chris Bottini put the sixth-seeded Wolves up 1-0 in the first half, and Jackie Klecka scored twice in the second half to seal the win over the third-seeded Mustangs.
Klecka's first goal came on a penalty kick, after Eagle River's Sarah Frankl was injured during a collision with the Chugiak goalkeeper and had to leave the game.
Susan Fleurant scored a late goal for Chugiak.
South 5, East 0
Morgan Hooe scored twice and dished three assists at Eagle River High to give second-seeded South a 5-0 opening-round win over seventh-seeded East.
Katelynn Zanders was on the receiving end of two assists from Hooe and Kelsie Luddington added another goal.
Dimond 12, Bartlett 0
Top-seeded Dimond used goals from eight different players to rack a 12-0 opening round win over Bartlett at Eagle River High.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News