Just when Edison High was cruising to its second consecutive CIF Central Section title last Friday at McLane High, a hand ball inside the box cost dearly when Liberty High (Madera Ranchos) got back into the game on Holly Strong’s penalty kick.
“When they got the goal on the penalty kick and equalized, the game was in doubt,” said Edison head coach Larry Hinz about.
A 1-0 advantage was converted to a 1-1 tie with 12½ minutes left in the Division II title match that pitted the top two seeds.
That’s when junior Abigail Borchers stepped up her game.
The Edison forward, who was thwarted on various scoring opportunities throughout the match played on a sometimes slippery field still wet from rain, broke through as the final seconds of regulation ticked away by bursting through two Liberty defenders and right-footing the winning goal.
That was enough to hand Edison its second consecutive section title, and a No. 4 seed in the Northern California Division III playoffs. The Tigers (16-8-1) host Vista del Lago (16-5-4) at 4 p.m. Feb. 26.
Last year, Edison went 22-6.
That success was both good and bad, said Hinz.
“At the beginning of the year, the girls definitely felt the need to live up to what we did last year,” said Hinz. “That’s good and bad. It’s good because they have high expectations; but the pressure was mounting on the girls in some ways.”
At one point, the team lost three consecutive matches but have now won eight straight games.
“Thankfully, we started to relax midway through the year and started to play our game and we were able to repeat,” said Hinz.
Edison struck in the 19th minute of play when senior Ariana Fischer blasted in a shot from the right side of the box.
Borchers (19 goals) and Fischer (11) are the top scorers for Edison this season. Edison went 9-1 in the County Metro Conference.
For Liberty, how 20-7-1, the match seemed like a repeat of last year’s Division II championship match when they lost 3-1 to Edison.
Strong, who scored on the penalty kick, ended the season with 27 goals. Liberty High won the North Sequoia League title with a 10-0 record.