GOSHEN – Soccer, like so many sports, can be a cruel game. In the case of the Goshen Girls Soccer Regional, one side dominated most of the game and lost on five seconds of brilliance. In the record books, it will go down as a 1-0 Goshen win over Warsaw, despite the Lady Tigers owning just about every facet of the contest.
“We just didn’t finish on the opportunities we had and they finished one of theirs,” said Warsaw head coach Peter Lucht. “Sometimes soccer can be cruel, and I guess it can be twice.”
The game’s only goal came from the brightest star on the pitch. Goshen junior forward Jelitza Palomino hadn’t really been much of a factor through 70 minutes. The greatest goal scorer in Goshen girls soccer history, Palomino had only taken three shots and none were very dangerous. But as the great ones tend to have, her nose for the goal finally paid off.
A cross into the 18-yard box found the foot of Palomino, who turned and instinctually shot at the net. The near post was uncovered, and before Tiger keeper Gabby Herman could react, what looked to be certain overtime now was panic time as Goshen held the lead with 10 minutes to go. The goal was Palomino’s 54th career goal.
“You never know, you are just looking for that one chance,” said Goshen head coach Dan Graber. “I thought this would be a 1-0 game. We didn’t come in here expecting to dominate. We know Warsaw is a top club and defensively we did a great job shutting down their scorers. We had to.”
Warsaw, which had eight shots on target and four corners, possessed the ball for much of the first half and more than half of the final 40 minutes. Warsaw also hit the framing of the Goshen goal twice, adding to its frustration. A laser from the right edge of the penalty area by Clair Snodgrass in the 48th minute fooled everyone, skipping off the facing of the goal. Four minutes later, a header by Danielle Hutcherson went unattended but just off the post.
Goshen goalkeeper Alyssa Hershberger, who collected Goshen’s school-record 14th shutout of the season, had to also make a diving save in the 65th minute when Brooklyn Jackson turned and fired a shot to the near post.
Hershberger would make six saves while Herman finished with seven saves on nine Goshen shots. Warsaw defender Pam Miller saved disaster on a Goshen corner in the 67th minute, clearing a destined ball off the line to keep the draw in tact.
Goshen’s defense did well to bottle up Warsaw’s Elizabeth Van Wormer, who scored four goals in the sectional win against NorthWood, to no shots on target. Van Wormer only had one shot, and it was blocked. Jackson would lead Warsaw with three shots on target.
“They began to double mark Liz, and man-marked Brooklyn in the second half, so it clogged up,” Lucht said. “But quite honestly, if we had moved the ball around more like we wanted to with simple passes, we could have worked around it. We had our opportunities, we moved the ball. They finished one.”
Warsaw concludes its season 13-3, two of those losses to Goshen in the regional pairing and the NLC match in September. Goshen moves to 17-1-1 and will take on Penn (17-2-1) in the regional final. Hannah Ehrhardt scored in the 16th minute for the Kingsmen.
The win for Goshen also marks the first regional round win in program history, a consequent first time in the final for Graber and his crew.
“This is the furthest we’ve ever gone as a team,” Graber said. “We’ve been to regionals four times as a program since I have been here, and every time we have lost in the first round. I told the girls, this is a chance to make history tonight.”