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Gannon keeps Pirates at bay

Junior goalkeeper

smothers 38 shots

for Hidden Valley

TALENT

-- Hidden Valley High junior Sheena Gannon was a goalkeeper under siege Saturday.

But Gannon survived.

She shut down an onslaught of Phoenix Pirates' shots -- 38 of 39 -- to allow the Mustangs to tie Phoenix, 1-1, in double overtime of a Skyline Conference girls soccer match at Hagler-James Park.

Gannon was credited with 38 saves, but it seemed like more to her coach, Chris D'amota, as the Mustangs rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the final 30 seconds of regulation and held on in the overtimes to gain the tie.

I couldn't have done this without the rest of my defense, said Gannon, who allowed only one goal in 100 minutes of relentless action against the Pirates.

The lone Phoenix goal came when a shot caromed off the head of Phoenix player Hayley Young and then glanced off the head of a Hidden Valley player before sliding into the goal for a 1-0 Phoenix lead in the first half.

For the rest of the afternoon, Gannon stopped all of Phoenix's shot attempts.

I'm pretty competitive, and the adrenaline was flowing today, said Gannon. This (tie) feels like a win. When you play as well as we do as a team, you have to feel like you won, the way we came back.

Hidden Valley tied the game with 30 seconds left in regulation play, on a penalty kick by sophomore Alison Wilt.

I looked to the right and hit it to the left, Wilt said of her kick. Usually, most players do it the opposite way. I guessed right and got it (the goal).

Wilt's penalty kick was the result of a hands penalty in the box against the Pirates.

It was a good call and we took advantage of it,said D'amota. Give our girls credit for battling to the end and finding a way to get a tie. We feel like we just won.

Phoenix coach Dan Sporrer admitted he felt like he lost.

Our expectations are more than a tie, he said. It's disappointing.

For about 80 percent of the possessions, the ball was at their end and we controlled it. To not win when that happens is disappointing.

Phoenix moved to 1-0-1 in Skyline Conference play, while Hidden Valley moved to 0-1-1.

On the penalty against Phoenix for hands in the box with 30 seconds left in regulation, Sporrer said it was a matter of interpretation as to whether the player involved was trying to stop the ball with her hands, or if it was merely a reaction to the ball coming.

I felt it was a reaction, he said. It's not so much a bad call as a bad break that it happened the way it did.

The Pirates, who are after their first Skyline Conference title under Sporrer in seven seasons, suffered a setback with the tie, the coach said.

If we're going to win it, we have to take advantage of scoring chances better than this, said Sporrer. We certainly had a lot of them and one goal isn't enough.

Sporrer credited Gannon with a strong performance in goal for the Mustangs.

She has quick feet and she's tough, he said. But we made a good keeper look extraordinary. We made her look like an all-star.

Keying Sporrer's frustration was the lack of quality shots put forth by his Pirates, with the lone goal resulting from one of his team's rare quality attacks against Gannon.

That's what happens when you put good pressure on the goal, the coach said. For most of the game, we didn't do that. It was like we were aiming our shots instead of just firing them.

Phoenix's Tara Curtis held her own as well in the battle of goalkeepers, allowing only the penalty kick by Wilt.

The Pirates suffered another blow with an injury to junior midfielder Annie Kulig. Sporrer said she will be out for three weeks because of a badly sprained ankle.

That makes (the tie) worse, said Sporrer. We're going to miss her.

Photo by Drew Fleming Hidden Valley's Jennifer Prowell, left, and Jennifer Bones fight for position.