The ball started at goalkeeper Ashley Bertsch and touched two more Cheyenne Mountain feet before squirting directly ahead of Lisa Long.
The senior captain ran it down and touched it past Air Academy keeper Emma Franzen as the No. 21 Indians finished their 2-1 road upset of the No. 5 Kadets in double overtime to advance to the 4A quarterfinals.
That may be the forensic rundown of events, but there was much more at play as Long ran down the ball that finally ended this game.
“I just knew I had to give it everything I had,” Long said.
For about 100 minutes — two 40-minute halves, a 15-minute overtime and several more in the second extra session — the Indians missed on chances to pull away.
They scored first on a goal from Emma Hanson, set up by a free kick from Carly Fetters. And then four shots hit the post. Another hit the crossbar. Another would-be goal was taken away at the last instant by a heads-up play from Kadets defender Liza Louthan.
All those missed chances, only to see Air Academy tie the game on a Jessica Sims goal with 2:10 remaining in regulation.
“As long as we keep pounding, something’s going to fall,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Nikki Athey said of her mindset though a long period of frustration. “We’ve just got to keep that pressure up.”
Air Academy coach Espen Hosoien wasn’t sure what happened to his team’s offense in the postseason, as it opened the playoffs with more than 180 scoreless minutes before Sims’ goal after a corner kick.
“It was a weird game,” Hosoien said. “With the amount of shots in the crossbar and post, it’s probably a fair result that Cheyenne Mountain got to win this game. It still doesn’t make it easy for my players to handle that.”
The Indians and Kadets (11-5-1) played April 23 on the same K-Dome pitch, with Air Academy winning 3-0. In May, however, Cheyenne Mountain (8-8) has won four of five.
“I think we’re just hitting our stride,” said Athey, a 1986 Cheyenne Mountain grad who fully understands the depth of this rivalry, having played in it herself. “We’re finding our team. We’re finding how we play and how we play well and we’re moving forward.”
But, again, none of that would have mattered without ball finding the net.
And when Long gave chase, she thought about that. And the end.
She says she’s played soccer since she could walk, and she’s decided that’s long enough. She declined to pursue the sport in college and will instead enroll at the University of Denver as an ordinary student. No practice after class. No soccer. No more.
Long has been trying to wrap her head around that finality, particularly when she walked right up to the edge in an overtime victory over Mead in the first round on Wednesday. Then she was right back in a sudden-death situation Saturday.
And then the ball appeared out in front of her, and she had it in her power to extend this run a little longer.
Franzen, Air Academy’s stellar sophomore keeper with a bright future, tried to come out and stop the ball. But Long was able to get there first and extend her time in the sport that will soon be in her past.
“We just want to get as far as we can,” Long said, “so we can spend as much time together as we can and play as many games together as we can.”