All the scoring occurred in the first 30 minutes and then No. 1 Hutchinson and No. 19 Johnson County settled into an intense defense battle that lasted to the final whistle on Saturday at the USD 308 Athletic Complex.
Trailing by a goal, the Lady Dragons netted a pair of tallies within 1 minute, 10 seconds of each other and then outlasted the Cavaliers for a 3-2 Jayhawk Conference victory.
The top-ranked Lady Dragons (7-0, 6-0 Jayhawk Conference) trailed 2-1 in the first half and tied the game when sophomore Melissa Hetherington’s corner kick found its way into the goal off the hands of Johnson County goalkeeper Janay Stone with HCC sophomore Jamie Smith in close proximity. That tied the game at 2-all in the 29th minute.
Just 1:10 later, freshman Courtney Gahagan took a pass from Hetherington and before she could gain control of the ball, Gahagan was fouled from behind just outside the penalty box. That set up freshman Danielle Sheehy to blast a direct free kick past the Johnson County wall and Stone into the lower right corner of the net to give Hutchinson a 3-2 lead with 15:46 to play in the first half.
From that point, the game turned into a physical defensive stalemate with room to work through the midfield area at a premium.
Tested for truly the first time this season, HCC sophomore goalkeeper Eunice Figueroa was at her best in the second half, making three superb saves to preserve the lead. Figueroa (5-0), who moved into third on the career goalkeepers’ wins list, tied a career high with five saves.
But unlike last year’s 3-2 Region VI semifinal victory over Johnson County, HCC’s defense got stronger as the intense match progressed.
Figueroa’s last of her three second-half saves came at the 65:07 mark. Johnson County (5-2, 4-1) wasn’t credited with another shot until the final minute when Kelsey Wakefield drove a shot wide of the Hutchinson net.
Hutchinson out-shot Johnson County 20-14 and 12-7 in shots on goal. HCC generated five corner kicks to Johnson County’s three.
Sheehy posted her seventh-straight multi-goal game, netting a pair of goals. She became the seventh Lady Dragon to score 20 goals in a season, now with 21. Hetherington scored her career 51st goal to tie the game. Gahagan was the only other Lady Dragon to score, earning an assist on Sheehy’s first goal.
Megan Wilcox and Wakefield had the Johnson County goals. Christianna Tran had two assists and Liz Ulrich had one assist. Stone finished with three saves.
The Lady Dragons grabbed the early lead when Gahagan slipped a nice through-ball to Sheehy, who drove to the box and deftly grounder past Stone to the lower left corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead just 1:37 into the game.
Johnson County then scored the first goal of the season against Hutchinson at the 7:56 mark to tie the game when Wilcox scored. Hutchinson’s scoreless streak in terms of minutes ended at 517 minutes 56 seconds, the second longest in team history.
The Cavaliers were getting the better of the ball possession at this juncture and gave HCC its first deficit of the season in the 22nd minute when Wakefield scored to give the Cavaliers a 2-1 lead.
The Lady Dragons then started grab momentum and earned a corner kick in the 29th minute that Hetherington scored on, her 15th of the season, to tie it at 2-2 at the 28:04 mark.
One minute, 10 seconds later, Sheehy scored what would become her third-straight and fourth-overall game-winning goal.
Hutchinson will travel to Barton at 2 p.m. on Tuesday in another battle of upper-division Jayhawk Conference teams.
GAME NOTES – HCC has won four-straight games against Johnson County and is now 6-7-1 all-time vs. the Cavaliers. … Danielle Sheehy’s seventh-straight multi-point game ties for seventh on both the career and single-season lists. Her seventh-straight multi-goal game ties for second single-season and 16th on the career list. … Now with 21 goals, Sheehy is already tied for fifth on the single-season goals list and tied for 11th on the career list. … Melissa Hetherington is now second on the career shots on goal list with 102. … Eunice Figueroa now has 18 career victories.
(HCC Sports Information)