WEBSTER CITY - One bad hop, that was all it took to get Samantha Garcia out of position and to start the junior goalkeeper's heart beating about a mile a minute.
But there was no panic, and certainly no time to hang her head. Instead she relied on instinct, and it ultimately saved the day for her team and kept her smiling long after the final horn sounded.
Garcia, a junior and first-year starting goalkeeper for Webster City, capped her impressive evening in net yesterday by diving at the ball and taking it right off the foot of Carroll Kuemper's Jordan Riesselman just inches from the goal in the 78th minute to preserve the Lynx 1-0 victory over the Knights on the pitch at Lynx Field.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City goalkeeper Samantha Garcia (left) covers up the ball after a shot attempt by Carroll Kuemper’s Brandi Bueltel (6) late in the second half last night at Lynx Field. Lynx defenders Sarah Paukert and Sydney Beem also helped to slow down the fallen Bueltel on the play.
It was one of 10 second-half saves for Garcia, who punctuated the triumph with a driving stop to her right with 28 ticks to go. She had 14 stops in all in just her third start in net.
"It was very tough out there, but I think we did well," Garcia said. "Our defense is getting better as long as we work together, and the win feels great."
It was still scoreless in the 58th minute when Garcia was put on the spot following a handball penalty called on Webster City (1-1) inside the goal box. That gave Kuemper's Brandi Bueltel a penalty kick, but Garcia guessed correctly and lunged to her right as Bueltel's kick sailed wide of the post.
"(The penalty kick) was nerve wracking, but with the wind blowing like it was I knew she had to go to the outside, and they went down low all night so that's just where I went," Garcia said.
WCHS head coach Greg Bock couldn't stop singing the praises of his goalkeeper following his team's first win, which came on the heels of back-to-back losses to Class 3A schools Fort Dodge and Mason City.
"Samantha has nerves of steel back there, and she's just been fantastic," Bock said. "We're thrilled with the way she's playing."
Sophomore Molly Gilbert broke the scoreless drought that ultimately propelled WCHS to the victory with the first goal of her career in the 67th minute.
With the wind in the Lynx favor, junior midfielder Ashley Meyers sent a towering kick down the field to Gilbert, who was surrounded by a pair of Kuemper defenders. But Gilbert won the battle for the ball, turned, and rifled the ball past Knights' keeper Sam Bedford and just inside the post on the right.
She was immediately swarmed by teammates.
"That was a tremendous relief to see that goal go in, and this (win) was important," Bock said. "To play a team of our caliber and in our 1A bracket, and to win it should do a lot for our confidence."
Kuemper had its chances throughout the 80-minute affair. The Knights held a 25-7 shots on goal advantage, including a 16-2 edge in the second half.
Bock elected to put several of his forwards, most notably junior Rachel Kauffman, who leads the team with five career goals, back on defense to withstand Kuemper's assault. The move paid off.
"With our young team, we're lacking scorers, so we've just got to play for those few shots that we get," he said. "With our few veteran players, we've got to put them back on defense and the midfield."
Kuemper fired off four shots over the final 3 minutes of the first half to no avail against a noticeably winded WCHS squad. And the Knights didn't let up after the intermission, but they simply had nothing in their arsenal to get by Garcia.
"Yeah, that was a lot of fun," Garcia said.
WCHS will hit the road on Thursday to face Aplington-Parkersburg at 5:30 p.m.