After withstanding pressure from Smithfield for much of the first half of the Region 4A championship game Thursday at Wanner Stadium, Jamestown began to build momentum.
With the Eagles trailing by a goal, South Carolina commit Brianna Behm asserted herself, just missing on a pair of free kicks before drawing a foul that led to a penalty kick and a goal to close out the first half.
Jamestown carried the play for much of the second half, but Smithfield goalkeeper Makila Forbes stopped a pair of point-blank shots, and the Eagles had a goal called back on an offside call. Then, against the run of play, the Packers’ Madelyn Vincent scored, and Jamestown couldn’t counter in the final 10 minutes of the game as Smithfield won its first-ever region championship 3-2.
“I think in the first half, we were the better team,” said Smithfield coach Jeremy Gibson. “In the second half, I think they regained momentum — Jamestown, that is. They’re a great team. It could have gone either way.”
Smithfield (17-2-0), which has won 15 in a row since falling to Jamestown on April 9, will host Courtland Tuesday in the Class 4 quarterfinals while Jamestown (14-3-0) will play at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Hanover.
The Eagles opened the scoring on a goal from Madeline Allburn in the seventh minute of the game, but the Packers kept up the pressure on the Eagles, and it paid dividends in the 18th minute, with Alexandra Krohn chipping a shot from just inside the right side of the box, drifting into the upper left corner of the goal to tie the game.
Jamestown was unfortunate later in the half when a corner kick from Smithfield’s Erin Lee went off an Eagles’ defender and into the left corner of the goal.
For much of the first half, play centered in the middle of the field, with the two teams occasionally making threatening runs.
“Every time we play Jamestown, it’s really just battle of the midfield,” Gibson said. “And in the last couple of games at least, it’s one that could really go either way. Great possession by both teams, great through balls, a couple of chances for each team.”
But with Behm displaying her prowess, Jamestown started to control more of the game, making threatening runs and attempts on goal before drawing a foul from Forbes with two seconds left in the first half, leading to Kennedy Mills’ penalty kick that tied the game 2-2.
Forbes, though, stymied the Eagles on a pair of close-range shots in the second half, and also benefited from an offside call that denied Jamestown a possible go-ahead goal.
But with both teams cramping in the humid conditions, Vincent scored with 9:59 left, putting Smithfield on top.
And with the final seconds ticking off of the clock and the Packers on the verge of beating Jamestown and winning their first region championship, the exhausted group of players knew it was their time.
The Packers had conquered a long-time nemesis and won a region championship at the same time.
“My chest was just going crazy,” Lee said. “The closer it got to zero, I just kept checking the clock and my heart was racing. When it hit less than a minute (to go), I just knew, this was it. We did it. Honestly, I had to hold back tears because we have worked so hard for this.”
Said Gibson: “We’ve been trying to do this for five years. It’s the best feeling that we could get.”