The Ignacio High School girls soccer team finally did it.
The Bobcats got into the win column for the first time since 2012 on Saturday, as it ended a seven-year drought with a 2-1 win Saturday afternoon at Center High School.
Ignacio (1-3, 1-2 Class 2A Region 4) got goals from Alannah Gomez and the game-winner from Abbi Barthel right at the end of the match.
Four days shy of the seventh anniversary of Ignacio’s last win, the Bobcats won again. Eighty-six matches were played spanning 6,880 minutes, but once the full-time whistle sounded, the only word that Ignacio head coach Alisha Guillon could use was “indescribable.”
“It was the most incredible feeling of my coaching career and certainly of their playing career,” Guillon said. “Before the game, we knew that we were going to be evenly matched against them, and we lost both times last year 1-0 in heart breakers. I told them more than anything, more than anyone else, they should play for themselves, and if we could do that, we’d break the streak.
“When that final whistle blew, everybody went crazy. Some players sprinted over to hug their parents, their teammates and me. It was almost like we won a state championship.”
Center (0-5, 0-5 2A Region 4) took the lead in the 23rd minute when IHS goalkeeper Rylee Pearson saved an initial penalty kick issued because of a handball, but in the rush to clear the rebound, the clearance attempt hit a hand and another handball was called. The Vikings would not be denied a second time, as they converted the penalty to go up 1-0.
“At that point in the match, even when we went down, we kept pushing and it was back-and-forth action,” Guillon said. “I knew that if we had a clean look, we could level the score.”
The Bobcats did just that, as they tied the match at 1-1 in the 30th minute. With a few players in the box, Gomez, a center midfielder, got into the box unmarked and a loose ball came out to her. She struck it from the 18-yard box and it flew in. The teams went into halftime tied, and Guillon knew there was still all to play for.
“The team talk was straight forward,” Guillon said. “I just told them that whoever wants it more is going to change the game. They came out and were so determined to get that winner.”
The second half continued to be end-to-end action, but Barthel saw her moment. With four minutes remaining in the match – the 76th minute, she received a pass and was in on goal on a breakaway, but her initial shot was denied.
“When her first shot was saved, I think everybody’s hearts sunk,” Guillon said. “The save could have deflected anywhere, but thankfully, it came back out to her.”
With the keeper already down and out, Barthel had a wide-open net to score.
It was a frantic final few minutes, as Center pushed everyone forward for a last-ditch effort.
“At that point, everybody on the bench was shouting at our defenders to keep holding off the attacks,” Guillon said. “We knew we were so close and we had to stay tight in the back. They were great, and it was unbelievable defense.”
The Bobcats propelled attack after attack, and when the final whistle blew, it was exaltation for Ignacio.
Guillon has been with the program for four seasons, two as an assistant and is now in her second year as head coach. She knew the Bobcats would finally get their breakthrough.
“What always impressed me was that they never hung their heads after a mercy rule,” Guillon said. “They were always looking for the little wins, their little moments on defense or that they made some good passes. Every game, no matter what happened, they never lost that spirit.”
Ignacio will host Del Norte at 1 p.m. Friday.