Photo/James Pugh

Anything less would have been a disappointment.

Seconds away from a would-be 1-0 loss to South Jones in the second 10-minute overtime period, freshman Jenny Batista showed how clutch she, and West Jones could be. Batista’s last-second equalizer goal in the 99th minute Friday night sent the game to be decided in penalty kicks. The Lady Mustangs outshot the Lady Braves 3-1 in penalty kicks to pull off the 2-1 comeback win on the muddy Soso pitch.

The game between the two-storied county and Region 5-5A rivals was one for the ages.

“This is a wonderful feeling,” said West Jones girls head coach Craig Winship. “The girls played their hearts out – on both sides. 

“We just never quit and never gave up. We stuck with what we do. We got out of it here and there and played over the top, but overall we stuck with what we do best. Even in the final minutes, we played under control and well. I could not be more proud.”

Before the highly anticipated match, opponents failed to score a goal on West Jones in nine full halves. After 80 minutes of regulation Friday night, the count increased to 11. Neither team found the back of the net despite South Jones winning possession for the majority of regulation. 

Freshman Brianna Gray erased the streak, scoring a goal for South Jones with less than three minutes remaining in the first 10-minute overtime period. 

Winship said he was most proud of the way his girls never gave up despite what in reality was a devastating blow in the first overtime period. 

“[South Jones] handled overtime well after they scored that goal,” said Winship. “They kept the ball wide and tried to maintain possession. We didn’t drop our heads. We ended up with a few opportunities after adjusting our formation. We put a few more offensive players in because giving up another goal wouldn’t matter, and pressed forward. I couldn’t be more proud of our girls and how they stuck to it.”

Batista’s equalizer came at the last possible second and employed quite a celebration, not just on the field but at the West Jones bench. 

“I think one thing we had going for us was our depth,” Winship added. “We played quite a few people and kept our legs a little more fresh. And we normally play more girls than we did, but even the fresh legs we got in helped in the end.”

It showed during the penalty kicks. West Jones girls appeared to have more left in their tanks. Ella Jefcoat, Bre Carr, and Bailey James made their PK’s in contrast to just one South Jones PK converted. Keeper Madison Stinson aided with incredible saves in goal to ensure the West Jones victory. 

West Jones girls improve to 9-5 on the season and remain unbeaten in Region 5-5A at 2-0. South Jones falls to 8-2-2 and 1-1 in 5-5A.