VANDALIA — In many athletic contests, there is a defining moment – one where the momentum shifts and the outcome is decided, even if you don’t know it at the time.
That was the case Thursday night when the Northmont Lady Thunderbolts defeated Butler’s Lady Aviators 2-1 at Butler Memorial Stadium in a second round sectional match.
Butler had many early opportunities to score but couldn’t find the net. When they finally did for the first time, disaster struck.
In the 19th minute of the first half, the Lady Aviators (14-2-1) had what appeared to be the game’s first goal but it was nullified by an off-sides call. Just 33 seconds later, Northmont’s Brittany Weatherford found herself with a clear shot to give the Lady Bolts a 1-0 lead.
“That was a big swing,” said Northmont head coach Tom Mergler.
“That took the wind out of our sails for a while, you could definitely see it,” said Butler head coach John Gray.
Seven minutes later Butler tied the game as Keoni Rakestraw dribbled down the right sideline and found Brianna Fourman streaking down the middle to tie the game at 1-1.
However, Northmont (9-6-3) had a quick answer less than a minute later, and it proved to be the game winner. In the 27th minute, Hannah Cloud sent a high shot from about 35 yards out that snuck just under the crossbar and just out of reach of the Aviator keeper.
“As soon as she hit that ball we all had a feeling that it was going in,” said Mergler. “We’ve seen it so many times we just knew. That was a huge goal for Hannah.”
The second half was a physical, defensive battle, and again Butler had their chances, but the Lady Bolts turned them away including a penalty kick in the 73rd minute and a breakaway shot by Butler’s Brittany Petrosky in the 78th minute.
“The first half was ours, but in the second half they definitely kept pressure on us,” said Mergler. “We knew it was going to be a dog fight and our girls hung on. Butler had three of the top scorers in the GWOC so we knew we had our hands full defensively. Our girls came up big and we held on.”
The win advances Northmont to the sectional championship versus Centerville on Monday, Oct. 26 at Doug Adams Stadium in Xenia. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Butler ends its season at 14-2-1 and as GWOC North division champions.
“I’m disappointed for our seniors,” said Gray. “The seniors wanted this, they wanted a shot at Centerville again. They have really come a long way in two years, it’s hard to believe. I’m really proud of these girls. They could have tanked after the Centerville loss, but they didn’t lose for 13 straight games until tonight.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.