Herbert Hoover's defense turned in a nearly perfect performance against host Sissonville on Tuesday, but it wasn't quite perfect enough.
The Huskies made one mistake, committing a penalty in the box, allowing Sissonville's Madison Jones to register the game's only goal on the ensuing penalty kick with just 11:42 remaining. With that, the Class AA-A Indians escaped with a 1-0 victory in both teams' regular-season finale.
Sissonville doesn't have a perfect record, but it's pretty close at 17-0-3. Coach Ali Sadeghian was quick to admit his team didn't play its best game on Tuesday, but gutted its way through in a fashion that has become the signature trait of this team.
"I'm very proud of these girls," Sadeghian said. "This is one of the most memorable teams I've had for the last 13 years and they've done a great job. If you'd asked me three months ago how it would've turned out, I would not have said an undefeated season, but they did it. They play for each other. It's not about 'I,' it's all about each other.
"They show up every game with the shallow depth that we have and they win - they win one game after another one. They will not give up, they refuse to lose, basically - that's their motto."
The Indians needed every bit of that fight to overcome a game No. 8 Huskies team on Tuesday.
To Hoover's credit, many of Sissonville's struggles were due to outstanding efforts from goalkeeper Bailey Aab and defensive players Lillian and Olivia Gandee, among others.
The Huskies absorbed body blow after body blow as the Indians fired 28 shots, 18 on goal, and had several other runs cut off at the last second by the Gandee sisters, who covered as much ground as anyone on the field.
Aab did her part by registering 16 saves and was Jones' penalty kick away from shutting out one of the state's best offenses. Sissonville has scored at least one goal in every game this season.
Indeed, there was much for the Huskies (15-4) to take away from Tuesday's loss and with both teams in Region 4 Section 1, a rematch could be looming soon.
The Indians will take on Ravenswood next Tuesday and Hoover will match up with Williamstown, with the winners facing off for the sectional title.
"We played the full game, in my book we won it," Hoover coach Brittany Woods said. "We did all the things we needed to do. We might not have gotten a goal in there but we're walking out of here with our heads held high tonight.
"We're looking to Tuesday, get past that game, and we'll see them again. I'm ready and we're ready."
While happy to finish off an undefeated season, Sadeghian and the Indians were relieved to win a game in which 17 shots on goal were denied before the postseason begins.
"It was ugly, but we survived," Sadeghian said. "We have to learn to go through this time of game. I'm glad it happened now and hopefully we learn from it and move on. We need to learn to play a team that can defend that well against us and defend most of the game. We need to overcome those sorts of situations.
"You've got to give [Aab] credit. That kid is amazing. She does a great job for them. She's been doing it for the last couple of years and she's going to get better."
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