MINFORD — For Haley Knore, who for sure knew that dreaded straight mustard shots ultimately resulted in the sweet taste of victory.
Not to mention, and in absolute insane and epic fashion, it was a historic and not-to-be-forgotten record-breaking Thursday night in Minford.
In the second half of the undefeated Lady Falcons’ non-league girls soccer match against like-undefeated and visiting Rock Hill, the Lady Falcons trailed by a stunning 5-0 deficit —and the standout senior forward Knore was out of the game, not once but twice due to painful leg cramps.
But break out of nowhere a squeeze bottle of everyday mustard, which Knore took four straight shots of —and let the Lady Falcons’ catch-up of Rock Hill begin.
“Oh my that was bad,” said an elated Knore, with a laugh in regards to eating mustard to relieve the sharp cramping pain. “But we just played balls to the wall that entire second half. We never stopped. Not once. It just happened. I don’t know how, but it just happened. It was just insane.”
What happened exactly was Knore getting up, getting back on the brand-spanking new Bermuda-grass pitch, scoring two record-setting goals, and last —but certainly not least — assisting on the go-ahead and ultimately game-winning tally, and shockingly lifting the Lady Falcons to a colossal 7-6 come-from-behind win to remain undefeated and untied.
Yes folks, you read that right.
The same Lady Falcons which trailed 5-0 in a matter of 31 minutes and 45 seconds, and still remained down 5-0 with 25:41 to play, cranked out an astounding seven goals in the final 25-plus minutes —which was actually 20 total minutes if you want to be precise.
The Lady Falcons only led for the final five minutes and 39 seconds —as Knore passed to Lexi Conkel, who beat Rock Hill goalkeeper Abigail Payne for her fourth counter of the contest.
That made it 7-6, as Minford moved suddenly to stall tactics against the zapped Redwomen —preventing any semblance of last-minute, or even last-second, rushes for goals.
It was a comeback of epic proportions for the Lady Falcons, and not to mention historic —the largest comeback for a victory ever in the history of Minford High School girls soccer.
Both clubs came into Thursday night at the Falcons’ Nest a perfect 5-0-0, but only the Lady Falcons (6-0-0), somehow and someway, leave undefeated —and still untied.
Knore, doing her best to calm herself down after experiencing an exhausting —and often exhilarating —wave of emotions, said she believed her and her Lady Falcon teammates had such a rally in them.
“The first half, our balls were working and we had some good one-twos and through-balls, but we weren’t getting shots at goal. But I knew we had it in us to win,” she said. “We just didn’t give up. This game, we always play 110-percent and I knew that we could do it. Oh my God, coming back from five down, it was just insane.”
It was even too crazy for Minford head coach Shane Tieman, who is in his ninth fall coaching the Lady Falcons — following four seasons at Northwest.
Tieman, 10 days ago, just won his 100th career match as a varsity soccer coach.
“Never had one like this before,” said Tieman. “Rock Hill is a phenomenal program. They are well-coached, they have a lot of talent. Luckily, by sheer grit, the last three years now we’ve stolen some wins from them.”
Believe it or not, Thursday night was not the first piping-hot contested matchup between the two —and not the first time Knore did Rock Hill (5-1-0) in to set school history, either.
Two years ago, in the Division III sectional championship match on the Redwomen’s pitch, Knore knocked in the game’s only goal in overtime —as that marker made it 34 for her sophomore season, which established the single-season goals record at Minford.
Knore netted her 16th and 17th of her senior season on Thursday, but once again against Rock Hill, she made history with not one but two goals —and a mere minute and 23 seconds apart.
With the Lady Falcons now trailing 5-3, but with Minford’s bench back energized, the Redwomen —with 13:52 to go —were whistled for a handball inside the goalbox, resulting in a Lady Falcon penalty kick.
Naturally, to nobody’s surprise, Knore took the shot and beat Payne past the lower-90 — making it 5-4 with her 96th career goal.
“Just praying to God it goes in,” said Knore, of her PK attempt. “I picked a corner and thank God it went in.”
But wait, Knore —no way and no how —was near finished.
With 12-and-a-half minutes left, and with Minford clearly dominating the match in its offensive half to even third, Knore nailed a Mychal Cron corner kick past Payne —amazingly tying the tilt at 5-5, and recording her 97th and now career record-setter.
“That play, no matter what, I was going to get that ball in. No matter what it takes, I was going to get that ball in,” said Knore. “Mychal (Cron) had a great corner (kick) to me, and I did it.”
Knore now has the most career goals in Lady Falcon soccer history, as she broke the 96 set by Cindi (Hay) Wolfe —who starred for the Lady Falcons from 2003 thru 2006.
“I literally could not do this without my girls. I love them all so much,” she said. “I just love my team. Could not have done this without them by my side and my coaches for pushing me every time and in every game.”
Wolfe called Knore via telephone following the match and congratulated her, as before that she received the signed soccer ball she broke the record with in front of her teammates —and then broke down with emotion.
However, those were tears of joy —which took away the pain inflicted upon her calves caused by cramps.
“I’ve hardly ever cramped up during a game, but they were bad,” she said. “One on each calf, they were intense.”
And, intense was an accurate description of the Lady Falcons’ final 25 minutes and 41 seconds —which they finally scored on an unassisted Cron blast.
Then, before Knore netted her two and the 5-5 tie, Conkel chalked up her first pair for the 5-3 deficit —off assists by Lexi Pendleton and Maggie Risner, and only a minute and seven seconds apart.
Only a minute after Knore’s record-setter, the Redwomen went ahead 6-5 —on an Aubrey Sutton direct kick.
But, exactly four minutes later with seven-and-a-half minutes to play, Cron crossed to Conkel for the Lady Falcons’ sixth goal —and the second tie at a pinball-esque score of 6-6.
Finally, only a minute and 52 seconds later — and perhaps lost in the shuffle and spectacle of Knore’s history-making night and the Lady Falcons’ frantic comeback —was her assist to Conkel for the go-ahead, and game-winning, goal.
As the clock ticked away in the final seconds, the Lady Falcons stormed the pitch and mobbed Knore in a wild celebration scene —soon joined by the Minford student section.
To be exact, Minford scored seven goals in 20 minutes and two seconds, and outshot Rock Hill 25-8 —including a massive 16-1 in the second half.
So seven successful shots that Payne couldn’t stop, as Sutton’s direct-kick goal accounted for the Redwomen’s only second-half shot.
Indeed, there was an offensive —and defensive —element in Minford making its second-half charge.
The Lady Falcons also amounted seven corner kicks, and were just a fraction off from sending one or more of those into the strings.
“In the first half, we weren’t getting any passing strings together, we weren’t getting that last good crisp pass in for a good touch and a goal. Just weren’t hitting or putting good passes together and there was a lot of balls we didn’t get to. In the second half, we started getting our passes together, we got some momentum, we were looking around and had better field awareness and were talking more. Girls were busting their butts to every ball. We were getting to everything,” said Tieman. “Then once we score with Mychal Cron’s goal, we opened the floodgates. Once we score, we’re there. If they can do that (seven goals in 25 minutes) they can do anything. We’re looking forward to doing anything.”
Rock Hill had that tidal wave going in the opening 32 minutes, with a hat trick by Hazley Matthews and two goals by Briana Reynolds, including the opening goal on a Sutton assist —which was the Redwomen’s only corner kick.
Emma Scott assisted three times including twice to Matthews, whose second and third goals came a mere 20 seconds apart —and made it 5-0.
At that point, who knew the Lady Falcons were about to stage the greatest comeback in program history —that all began with Knore taking four straight shots of mustard.
“This is one of those huge, Seminole wins. When we talked at halftime, all four coaches talked and our theme was basically the same. We’ve scored more than five goals in a half almost every game this year. We can do this. I waited until last to speak, and I asked them in a conversational tone of voice, ‘what story do you want to tell tomorrow (Friday)’. Do you want to tell your friends that you just got your butts kicked by Rock Hill 5-0, or do you want to tell them that you had the greatest comeback in Minford girls soccer history? What story do you want to tell? Now go out show what story you want to tell,” said Tieman. “Our girls came out the second half and never gave up. Rock Hill held us pretty hard, but that wave kept crashing against the wall. We don’t make it easy for ourselves, but why would we? Let’s just roll up our sleeves and play our guts out. That’s what the girls did. Just amazing. I’m so proud of them.”
Minford returns home, and returns to Southern Ohio Conference action, on Tuesday against defending league champion Wheelersburg.
First touch for the two 2-0 (SOC) teams is set for 7 p.m.
* * *
Rock Hill 5 1 — 6
Minford 0 7 —7
RH — Briana Reynolds (Aubrey Sutton assist), 26:21, 1st (1-0 RH)
RH — Hazley Matthews (Emma Scott assist), 19:00, 1st (2-0 RH)
RH — Briana Reynolds (Emma Scott assist), 11:42, 1st (3-0 RH)
RH — Hazley Matthews (Mackenzie Wilds assist), 8:35, 1st (4-0 RH)
RH — Hazley Matthews (Emma Scott assist), 8:15, 1st (5-0 RH)
M — Mychal Cron (unassisted), 25:41, 2nd (5-1 RH)
M — Lexi Conkel (Lexi Pendleton assist), 19:21, 2nd (5-2 RH)
M — Lexi Conkel (Maggie Risner assist), 18:14, 2nd (5-3 RH)
M — Haley Knore (penalty kick), 13:52, 2nd (5-4 RH)
M — Haley Knore (Mychal Cron assist), 12:29, 2nd (5-5 tie)
RH — Aubrey Sutton (direct kick), 11:31, 2nd (6-5 RH)
M — Lexi Conkel (Mychal Cron assist), 7:31, 2nd (6-6 tie)
M — Lexi Conkel (Haley Knore assist), 5:39, 2nd (7-6 M)
SHOTS — Rock Hill 8, Minford 25
SAVES — Rock Hill 4 (Abigail Payne), Minford 1 (Nevaeh Porter)
CORNER KICKS — Rock Hill 1, Minford 7
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved