For 110 minutes, the ball didn’t bounce Central High’s way Wednesday evening.
Hard shots kept boinking off the crossbar.
Even when the opposition had to play short when defender Rebecca Hazel got a red card in the fourth minute of the first of two, 10-minute overtime periods.
Scoreless after 80 minutes of regulation, 20 minutes of overtime periods, and 10 minutes of golden goal overtime, the Central Section Division I girls soccer playoff went down to penalty kicks.
That’s when the ball started to bounce correctly for the second-seeded Grizzlies.
Senior Madison Steinmann’s penalty kick hit the crossbar, bounced down and into the net.
After Frontier goalkeeper Gabby Harrelson stopped one penalty kick, a Frontier shot eluded Central goalie Ashley Chaddock dive to her right. However, the ball hit the post and bounced away.
With Central holding a 4-3 advantage, Frontier senior Nikki Prather booted a shot that hit the crossbar and bounced away.
The Grizzlies improved to 19-5-4 on the season and advance to play TRAC rival Clovis High in the second round. The teams split their league matches this season.
“Sometimes soccer doesn’t go as expected,” said Grizzlies coach Brandon Kwock. “I thought we played well. We had a ton of chances. We hit the post three, four times.
“We just had to gut it out. Shots weren’t going our way.”
It wasn’t pretty, Kwock admitted, but Central lived to play another game.
“We pulled through and did what we needed to advance.”
It didn’t help that the Grizzlies lost leading scorer Megan Galván with less than two minutes to play in the second overtime period to a red card.
“It’s the first red card we’ve had all season, and probably first in the last five years,” said Kwock. “A lot of our offense flows through her. When she went out, other players had to pick up the slack.”
Central survived the game of inches.
Frontier High ended its season with a 10-10-3 record.
“Basically, you have to win and go on. Gut it out,” said Kwock. “You have to do whatever you have to survive and advance.