When East Mountain’s girls soccer team faced off against the Moriarty Lady Pintos during the Covid-postponed spring campaign last March, the Lady Timberwolves won with a penalty kick in double overtime.
The Lady Pintos hosted the Lady T’Wolves on Sept. 21 and the outcome this time around wasn’t much different.
Moriarty’s hot-footed forward Lila Lionbarger scored the first goal of the game, but an East Mountain penalty kick and a pair of goals by Audria Vestal lifted the Lady T’Wolves to a 3-1 victory.
Lionbarger, who had netted 12 goals in her previous four matches, added another to her tally when she broke a scoreless tie in the 16th minute. On an attack from the left side, Brooklyn Olivas slid Lionbarger the ball and she lofted a left-footed shot from just inside the 18-yard box for a 1-0 advantage.
Eleven minutes later, Lionbarger had a chance to score again on a counterattack that drew East Mountain’s goalkeeper out from the goal. Lionbarger tried to punch the ball past the goalkeeper, but she got too much air on it and it clanged off the crossbar.
“I tried to pop it in, but I heard a girl behind me so I wanted to get it off as quick as I could, but it was a little too hard, just too high, too high,” Lionbarger said.
East Mountain tied the game in the 39th off a corner kick that landed in the middle of a crowd in front of the goal and Vestal tapped it in. It was Vestal’s first-ever varsity goal.
“It was honestly a lucky touch and it just curved right into the inside post past the keeper,” Vestal said.
“That was huge, huge to equalize that,” added East Mountain head coach John Sabrowski.
East Mountain’s Sierra Larson nailed a penalty kick in the 49th to give the Lady T’Wolves a 2-1 lead.
The penalty was called when Moriarty knocked down East Mountain’s Kaylee Baker inside the 18. Baker jumped up and started clapping because she knew it meant a PK.
It also was what happened the last time the two teams played each other—Baker drew a foul and Larson scored the game-winning penalty kick.
“It’s the second time in a row it’s happened,” Baker said. “I got taken out in the box last season and it got us the win with the PK.”
Despite Baker drawing the foul, Sabrowski said he used Larson as a “designated kicker” to shoot the PK because he knew it would be a stressful situation.
“When you get fouled your emotions are high and you need someone who’s very calm to finish it off so that’s why I had Sierra take it cuz she’s pretty solid,” Sabrowski said.
As the game progressed, East Mountain won more possessions of the ball. Vestal sealed the win in the 52nd with her second goal—a “brace” in soccer vernacular—when she sliced a shot past Moriarty’s goalkeeper.
“I was very surprised, I was not expecting it, I kinda like turned away and I was like, ‘Oh, she has it,’ and then as I turned back it went right through her legs,” Vestal said, adding, “These were my first goals, and after the first one, I think I was definitely just fired up. To get the second one is very exciting.”
Sabrowski said the key was controlling possession for much of the match.
“Throughout the game, we just kept settling it back down and passing it around and playing our game,” Sabrowski said. “And that, in the end was the difference.”
Though the schools are in different classes—Moriarty is Class 4A and East Mountain is 3A—the teams have developed somewhat of a rivalry between them.
Nevertheless, after the game, several of the players hung out together, paying each other compliments and taking pictures.
“Some of us played on club teams together,” Lionbarger said. “We’ve been friends for years.”
With the win, East Mountain improved to 5-2-1. Moriarty is 4-3-1. The Lady Pintos played at Santa Fe Prep on Sept. 23, while the Lady T’Wolves played at Bosque School in Albuquerque.