Hart High freshman Tori Waldeck gathered the ball and hurtled down the sideline.
Teammate Taylor Moorehead was open, but Waldeck waited, and waited and waited.
The window never closed.
Waldeck sent a dazzling cross that Moorehead one-timed out of the air and into the net for the Indians’ final goal in a 3-1 win over Liberty High of Bakersfield on Friday in the Hart Soccer Showcase championship.
Girls soccer: The 2016 Hart Soccer Showcase champions. pic.twitter.com/nAp9s67uFe
— Signal Sports (@SignalSports) December 30, 2016
The Indians couldn’t capitalize on numerous first-half chances, but the window for offensive explosion didn’t close. Even if it had, Hart likely would have forced its way through, scoring three goals in the first 14 minutes of the second frame for a third straight title in its home tournament.
“I thought that we needed a little bit more fire and desire to get to those crosses to make something happen (in the first half),” said Hart coach Guilherme Mitrovitch, whose team improved to 11-2-1. “… I felt we weren’t being ruthless in the attacking third.”
Isabela Penaranda opened the scoring in the 44th minute when she booted a ball that had eyes. The shot sliced its way between Liberty defenders and past the keeper for a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Moorehead chipped a corner kick into the box where Brooke Rickard headed it in.
Then Waldeck initiated Hart’s final goal.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better ball,” Moorehead said.
Emily Lostetter’s goal in the 65th minute for Liberty proved to be meaningless other than it meant Hart didn’t finish the five-game tournament without giving up a goal.
It had outscored its previous four opponents by a cumulative score of 8-0.
“We’re a great team, and even though we still got the win — which was fantastic — there is a certain team expectation,” said Hart goalie Victoria Ryan. “And we don’t like little slipups happening like that.”
The Hart defense limited the Patriots (7-3-3) to four shots in the first half.
Hart, on the other hand, managed 12.
But shots sailed high and through balls went long — until the second half.
“I think the desire to get to those balls, to make a couple connections (was better after the break),” Mitrovitch said. “We took more shots (19). I thought in the first half we lacked the number of shots.”
Despite a high-powered, always-dangerous offense, Hart won three games in the tournament by 1-0 scores. That was the case in Thursday’s semifinal win over previously unbeaten Royal High of Simi Valley.
Hart has advanced to the finals of its home tournament 11 times since 2004, winning six times.