Heckaman’s walk-off winner sends Leafs past Cleary in OT
Pair of transfers hook up for first-touch strike to push team above .500
HOWELL, Mich. — Amanda Heckaman sure picked a good time for her first shot on goal in a Goshen College uniform.
The junior slotted an Allison Ebersole cross past the Cleary University goalkeeper 5:14 into sudden-death overtime Tuesday night as the Maple Leafs walked off with a 1-0 win over the Cougars in the first regular-season women’s soccer match at Lake Trust Stadium.
Katie Baer made eight saves for the Maple Leafs (2-1), marking seven straight games with at least that many as she posted her first shutout of the season.
The Cougars (0-1) finished the game with a 17-6 edge in total shots, but were unable to come through in the category that matters most. Goshen finished regulation with two of the match’s three corner kicks, although Cleary would add two more in the extra session, as late as 90 seconds before the winning goal.
CU had the bulk of the chances in the first half, getting off seven shots and the lone corner kick of the opening 45 minutes. Baer made two saves before the match was 10 minutes old and neither team put another attack on target before the intermission.
The Maple Leafs came out with renewed energy after the break, posting four fouls, a shot on goal and an offside call in the first 11 minutes. Lauren Cernak took the team’s first corner kick, then followed that with a shot just after the 63-minute mark. Ebersole and Allyson Smith both challenged Cougar keeper Brooke Thomas in the middle third of the half.
Momentum swung back in Cleary’s favor late in the period, as Baer was called on for three saves in a three-minute span between the 79th and 82nd minutes. Harley Gorzelski, who led all players with six shots for the hosts, was responsible for two of those.
Heckaman, a NorthWood High School graduate and transfer from Ancilla College, has seen action in all three games for the Maple Leafs. She started the team’s first two games; while Tuesday marked her first appearance off the bench, she ended up accumulating 84 minutes. Just after the midpoint of the first extra session, her one-timer sent the visiting team home happy and above .500 for the first time this season.
“I’m proud of this team — it is never easy to win on the road, but I am even more happy with how they are playing,” said first-year head coach Justin Crew. “We are getting better in all phases of the game. Both of the last two game-winning goals have come from things we have specifically worked on in training.”
The Maple Leafs earned their second straight late one-goal win, four days after Ebersole’s 86th-minute tiebreaking goal at Indiana Tech. The win was also Goshen’s second in as many road games this season, marking the first time since 2016 the team had won back-to-back road games and the first time since 2014 that two straight games on synthetic turf resulted in wins.
“It was very hot (90 degrees at kickoff) and playing on turf made it even hotter,” Crew said. “Cleary was a very physical team and they made it very hard on us.”
Goshen finished the game with three shots on goal and suffered 11 fouls to Cleary’s 9. Taliah Borom led the team with two shots.
The Maple Leafs finish their three-game road trip with a visit to Bluffton University in Ohio on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.