The final buzzer sounded less than a minute earlier when one of Basha's players shouted the accomplishment of the evening's toil — “Hey, we're going to get a banner.”
Basha's girls soccer team nailed down its section title and automatic state playoff berth by scoring twice in he first 10 minutes of the contest and riding those goals to a 2-0 win over Highland in a Division I match at Basha High.
“We thought to succeed tonight we needed to jump on them,” Basha coach Greg Johnson said. “We got two quick goals. That definitely plays to our strength. We're good enough in the back to protect that.” The shutout was the 15th this year turned in by Basha.
A squad featuring 11 seniors, who were on Johnson's Basha team as freshmen, reached the goal they envisioned four years ago. It's the first state playoff berth since the 2006-2007 season for Basha and its third ever in a decade of existence. The Lady Bears were a No. 16 seed in 2007 and were one-and-done.
A throw-in by senior Alyssa Lamb in the third minute was headed in by senior Nicole Hildebrand, top shelf, for a stunninging quick score. Hildebrand played a part the second goal in the 10th minute, feeding ASU-bound Jazmarie Mader on a breakaway that Mader powered in from about 20 yards out.
“I remember looking at a computer last year to see if we made the playoffs,” Mader said. “We missed by a fraction of a point. It was the worst feeling. Winning this year is the best feeling. We had to come out and prove it to everybody.”
The quick deficit Basha (17-2-1 overall, 9-2 power-ranking matches) hung on Highland ((15-4-1, 8-3 prm) was something Highland coach Andy Barber has seen the last three games from his talented team. Those deficits put Hihgland in a three-game tailspin as postseason nears.
“We've lost the last three and given up goals early in everyone,” Barber said. “Gilbert scored on us in the 13th minute, Perry in the third minute and tonight Basha in the 2nd or 3rd minute. It certainly changes the mentality when you get behind that quickly…. We need to fix our mindset if we're going to do something (in postseason).”
Making the victory sweeter was the fact it was the first time this group of seniors had beaten Highland.
“Before the game I was nervous,” Basha keeper Tiana Pretzer said. “Highland is a team that scares you. But since our freshman year we thought this would be our year. I didn't know until the before the game we could win the section by winning tonight. It's a great feeling.”