HUNTSVILLE | The last time Scott High faced Kingston in a regular-season game here, the Lady Highlanders won on a walk-off at Highlander Stadium courtesy of a penalty kick by Julia Butts.
Butts, who graduated that same year, was on the sideline at Highlander Stadium for Tuesday’s (Sept. 27) game against the Lady Jackets, as the Lady Highlanders again defeated their old rival in a walk-off.
This time, it was on a golden goal by Ellie Lowe just 30 seconds into the overtime period, after the two teams had battled to a 4-4 tie in regulation.
Scott’s 5-4 win allowed the Lady Highlanders to secure a second place finish in the District 5-AA regular season standings, meaning the district tournament semifinal game will be played in Huntsville. That elimination game, which will feature a rematch between Scott and Kingston, will be played on Saturday, Oct. 8.
The Lady Highlanders had been mercy-ruled by Kingston in last year’s regular season meeting, then fell to the Lady Jackets in a lopsided district tournament semifinal. But it was apparent from the outset of Tuesday’s match that this year’s meeting would be different.
Scott led most of the night, and never trailed. Tucker scored a pair of goals in addition to assisting the game-winner, and her sister, Katie, also scored. Scott’s other goal in regulation was scored by Rachel Garrett.
The game was tied at halftime, and the Lady Highlanders went up 4-2 midway through the second half before Kingston made a late charge. Until that point, the Lady Jackets’ only goals had come off penalty kicks after questionable handballs were called in the box.
The first one, which came late in the first half and allowed Kingston to tie things up at 1-1, was questionable if only because the whistle came late and from the trailing official, after Kingston players protested. The second one, which came with just over 30 minutes remaining and allowed the Lady Jackets to tie the game at 2-2, was especially questionable because it appeared that — as Lady Highlander coach Eric Henry put it later — “the ball played the hand,” meaning it was unintentional and did not impact the play.
“I told them at the end of regulation that we can complain about the two gift-wrapped PKs that they got with the handballs, but the two goals we gave them in the second half is because we stepped back and watched,” Henry said. “We stepped and watched the passer, and we didn’t watch the shooter. They were hungry. They had to score. We had to go to them. So that’s on us. And we’re going to look at that on film tomorrow.”
Henry was referring to two goals by Kingston in a span of just about six minutes late in regulation, after the Lady Highlanders had taken a 4-2 lead. Scott High appeared to be out of gas, and the Lady Jackets actually had opportunities to take the lead. Henry said technique was more of an issue than fatigue.
“Yes, we were tired, but hey, they were tired too,” he said. “Everybody played hard. It was a good game. It was spirited.”
If there was any doubt about whether the Lady Highlanders had anything left in the tank, they answered that question quickly. Once the golden goal overtime period started, it took Scott less than 30 seconds to score and end the game. Tucker took a pass from Garrett, dribbled wide, then passed back to Lowe for a 25-yard, top-90 kick that deflected off the outstretched fingertips of the Kingston keeper.
“That goal was pretty, but we did what we had talked about: touch in, touch out, then hit Ellie on the flag,” Henry said.
The Tucker girls had scored Scott’s first three goals, before Garrett scored on a back-side header off a corner kick by Rector to make it 4-2 with 20 minutes to play.
“She camped. She was right there, Liv put it on her forehead, and that was it. It was beautiful,” Henry said. “Katie had a nice touch through and Chloe scored two nice goals.”
Henry said his girls picked up what was their biggest win since claiming a regular season district championship two years ago by adopting a motto from his boys’ team in the spring.
“You can’t control what the refs do or what the other team does,” he said. “That’s what I always told the boys. Because refs are gonna make mistakes and other teams are gonna do this or that. All you can control is what you do. We suffered through enough mistakes tonight in the back and in the middle, and then we got it together.”