After exerting themselves for 100 minutes, Patterson’s season came down to five shots in penalty kicks.
Cosumnes Oaks edged the Tigers 4-2 in the shootout after the teams played to a 1-1 tie in regulation and two overtime periods May 16 at Patterson Community Stadium.
“This game was a testament to how hard these players work,” said Patterson coach Cade Tomasegovich. “They played for their lives in the second half (of the game) — they persevered. That allowed us to breathe a bit longer.”
Entering the postseason on a four-match winning streak, Brianna Ascencio gave the Wolfpack a 1-0 lead early in the second half.
Cosumnes Oaks caught a break in the 54th minute when Ascencio was tripped inside the goal box to set up a penalty kick. The junior forward converted the shot to put the Wolfpack up 1-0, a lead that appeared good enough to put the team through to the second round.
But Patterson wasn’t going to just hand Cosumnes Oaks its berth into the quarterfinals of the Division IV tournament.
The Tigers (17-3-3) pushed forward.
Claudia Barron’s goal with less than two minutes to go in regulation rescued her Patterson teammates from the jaws of defeat and tied the game at one.
The 15th Tigers’ shot on goal probably should have been another stop for Cosumnes Oaks’ keeper, but she could not cover the ball in time, as Barron angled a blast that bounced off the goalie’s gloves, hit the left post and rolled into the back of the net, barely crossing the goal line.
“We knew we had to be at our best against a very good team,” Tomasegovich said. “I think the team had that mindset. I’m proud of the match that they played.”
During the elation in the aftermath of the equalizer, however, Barron was injured while celebrating with teammates.
The injury to the Tigers’ stalwart — who recently came away with the WAC’s Most Valuable Player award, after finishing the regular season with 27 goals and six assists — appeared to be a product of an awkward landing, following an exuberant team mugging.
Visibly frustrated, Barron did not return to play, and watched the remainder of the match from the bench, while her teammates took on the Wolfpack in overtime without her.
“Losing Claudia was big for us,” Tomasegovich said. “You can’t replace the level of competitiveness that she brings.”
When neither team could get the golden goal in one of the two overtime periods, the match moved to penalty kicks.
After watching Cosumnes Oaks’ Kira Wagoner sink the first shot with a strike into the right corner, Monique Garcia-Bradley smacked Patterson’s first attempt off the goalie’s fingertips and into the back of the net.
Then, after the Wolfpacks’ Abby Chin successfully sent the ball into the left side of the net, Patterson’s Kathryn Lee missed wide on a shot that bounced off the post.
Instead of going left like her teammate before her, Ascencio went right, and she nailed it. Tiger Samantha Santana, a sophomore, then lined up for her kick and deposited a ball into the right corner of the goal.
Both Cosumnes Oaks’ Kathrine Homen and Patterson’s Karina Villafana were stopped in the fourth round of penalty kicks.
But forward Malaika Kibunguchy broke through with a goal to the right in the fifth frame, giving Cosumnes Oaks a victory.
Not withstanding the early exit from the postseason, Patterson had a successful year. Drawing on its considerable youth and depth, the Tigers accomplished many of the preseason goals they had set.
Patterson won the WAC title outright — the team’s second league championship in three seasons — and advanced to its fourth consecutive postseason appearance.
“I had more expectations for this group, than for any I have coached,” Tomasegovich said. “I can’t be disappointed with the effort that they gave. It’s unfortunate that this match had to come down to penalty kicks.”