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 (14-5-0) make a save just before the net.
Plant coach Stephen McGill told his team, looking at a scoreboard full of zeroes, 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 and a date with Palm Harbor U. on Tuesday.
"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. We had a ton of opportunities. It would not go in."
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. The pair have played with each other since U-13 club ball.
"Almost all of her corners have been there, so I was just trying to get there," said Werdine. "I knew if I got a good jump, I'd have it. Give her all the credit in the world. It was the perfect ball."
Werdine has three header goals in her past four games.
"I guess it's developing into a specialty," she said with a laugh.
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.
"It could have been a little less nerve-wracking, but we got it done," Werdine said. "We're finally over the hump. We're such a good team and losing in the quarterfinals last year, it wasn't a part of the plan."