It would perhaps be easy, trailing twice by two goals at home to an opponent with only one loss, to tuck it in and simply play out the clock and accept the loss.
On Tuesday, the Perry girls soccer team faced just such a situation, and rather than sulk and silk away, the Jayettes launched a ferocious second-half rally to snatch a 5-4 win from Raccoon River Conference foe Ballard.
“We never felt we were out of the game, even when we got down by two the second time,” freshman scoring sensation Natalie Martinez said. “We were being lazy and not talking to each other, but we knew we were a little better than they were and that if we just played harder and kept attacking we would win.”
Ballard (4-2, 3-1) scored twice for a 2-0 lead early in the first half before Martinez put Perry (6-5, 3-2) on the board in the 29th minute. The Bombers were unfazed and quickly answered with a third goal to take a 3-1 lead into the intermission.
Grace Marburger scored in the 43rd minute to bring the hosts to within a goal, but Ballard again responded quickly to re-open a two-goal lead at 4-2.
Martinez assisted on a Marburger goal in the 50th minute to bring the score to 4-3 and give the hosts the final boost of confidence they needed.
“I said to the girls at half that we just needed to stay aggressive and find our marks and play our game,” Marburger said. “Natalie, Haley (Vaughn), Mariah (McNamara) and I could all beat our defenders easily, so we just needed to follow up and attack them and we could do it.”
Perry appeared to be the quicker team offensively, and while Jayette goalie Carly Anderson was forced to make nine saves in the game — most on Ballard counter-attacks — the pressure, especially in the final 30 minutes, was clearly on the Bomber defense.
Matinez made a series of nifty moves to shake free and rip a shot into the nylon from 15 yards out that tied the score with 27 minutes to play.
Two Anderson saves helped keep the game at 4-all, with Marburger hitting Martinez with an accurate pass that led to the fifth Perry goal with 16 minutes remaining.
Anderson twice stopped excellent scoring chances for the guests down the stretch, with the Ballard keeper denying Selena Garcia from increasing Perry’s lead in the waning minutes.
Martinez, whom Marburger smilingly called “a goddess” now has 22 goals this season. The freshman striker said she is not particularly interested in her scoring totals so long as the team prevails.
“I don’t really care — well, maybe I care low-key — but the main thing is I want us to win,” she said. “I am just playing the game, and if goals happen, fine.”
Marburger credited her teammates with helping make the goals happen.
“The defenders know their job is to get the ball up and the midfielders know to get the ball up, too,” she explained. “I’m usually what we call the ‘target’ player, so they (the midfielders) try to get me the ball and then I can pass it off to Natalie. Sometimes Natalie is the ‘target’ and she passes to me. I don’t either of us care as long as it is working.”