TAMPA — For the final minutes of regulation Thursday night, Plant teetered on the frustrating edge of disaster.
In their Class 6A region quarterfinal against scrappy Countryside, the Panthers had four solid scoring opportunities to score the winning goal in the final 10 minutes of the second half, only to have the Cougars make a save just before the net.
Plant coach Stephen McGill told his team to forget about dominating the field of play, the missed posts and the multitude of shots. The Panthers needed to score.
And after 88 minutes — eight minutes into the first overtime — center back Amy Werdine's header found the back of the net, giving the Panthers a 1-0 sudden-death win.
"I'm 85 years old right now," McGill said. "That's the longest I've ever waited for a goal. We could not have played better."
Werdine's header came off a corner kick from fellow senior Ellen Moore, a perfectly placed ball in front of the net that Werdine charged in for.
With the win, the Panthers (21-1-1) solved their hex of region quarterfinal losses the past two seasons, including a heartbreaking overtime loss to East Lake last season.
Countryside (14-5-0) nearly pulled off the upset despite getting few offensive opportunities until the second half. Cougars keeper Kim Kohn made a pair of big saves late on Connor Zwetsch and Abby Meckley. Minutes earlier, a Zwetsch shot got past a diving Kohn, but was saved just in time by defender Megan Giese.
"I thought my girls played extremely well," Countryside coach Rob Saltz said. "When all your team's crying and they can barely walk off the field, you know they gave it their all. We knew coming in here they were touted to be better than us, but we gave them all we had."