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By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

The Chelsea Bulldogs girls soccer season (9-9) ended in a district semifinal on May 28 against the Pinckney Pirates (17-2-2) at Milan, falling by a score of 3-2 in overtime. 

The Bulldogs gave the Pirates their biggest challenge during the regular season, the only SEC White team to defeat the Pirates, and took the Pirates to the limit on May 28. 

“I think we put them on the ropes a couple times,” said Bulldog head coach Jason Murphy. “We just didn’t make enough defensive plays to win it. I think our girls showed a lot of heart coming out in the second overtime getting a goal.” 

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Less than 10 minutes into the game, the Bulldogs scored. After a questionable no call on a take down in the box by the Pirates, the Bulldogs got the ball back after the ensuing Pirate goal kick. 

Bulldog sophomore Jessica Emmert cut in from her left forward spot to slot home the ball on the ground into the far corner for the early 1-0 lead with 30:55 in the first half. 

A defensive effort led by Bulldog freshman midfielder Breigha Vowles and senior center defender, and captain, Natalie Gofton held the Pirates at bay for much of the night constantly turning away deep passes. 

One of the Pirates’ best chances in the first half came with under ten minutes to go, a searching ball across the box, that Bulldog freshman goalkeeper Klara Kuebler disrupted by coming off her back line. 

The Pirates would score a few minutes later at the 7:44 mark, sophomore Danielle Bracken took advantage of a mis clear by the Bulldogs finishing her opportunity to tie it at one. 

With under five minutes to go Annabelle Sharp got a head on the ball in the box that hit the post and came back into play before the Bulldog defense cleared it away. 

The Bulldogs used their speed to get chances wide from the wings, Emmert and freshman Erin Dusenbury played out wide looking to run onto the ball with a lot of success throughout the night. 

In the second half, the Pirates came out strong with Kubler making many saves to keep the Bulldogs in the game. The first quality look for the Bulldogs came about halfway through the second half when sophomore Andrea Kowalski played a ball ahead to Dusenbury who cut in and got a shot off right at the Pirate goalkeeper. 

As the half progressed the Pirates continued to push higher and higher, with 8 minutes to go, Kubler took contact on a corner and the clock had to be stopped. Per regulations, she had to be subbed out, junior forward Olivia Olk stepped into the net and the defense held until Kubler could return on the next dead ball. 

With the clock hitting zero and the score still tied at 1-1, the game headed to overtime, two ten-minute periods played to completion with a penalty shootout looming. 

Halfway through the first overtime period, Pirate senior Alayna Moricz followed a ball and her extra effort was rewarded with a goal for the 2-1 lead with 5:34 in the first overtime. 

48 seconds into the second overtime, the Bulldogs responded. Emmert scored her second goal, fourth of the season against the Pirates, on a quick counter attack. 

After taking the ball in Emmert fired top corner to tie the game. 

The Pirates would score the final goal with under five minutes to go. Freshman Zoe Moretti scored the winning goal on a deep shot well outside the 18-yard box.

“It starts with the seniors,” said Murphy on what he’ll remember about this team. “There’s 10 seniors, some have been part of the program for four years. They’ve given us a lot. They set the foundation that were going to build upon. I think we have a bright future. They fought for the past 4 years for us and I’ll never forget that. They’ll always hold a dear spot in my heart because I started as a JV coach with a lot of them 4 years ago and they’ve been with me all four years. It was tough. The work they put in will reap some rewards next year.”

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