Catalina Foothills forward Emily Parker dribbled toward the center of the field in the waning seconds of Monday's girls championship game of the Brandon Bean Kickoff Classic against Sahuaro.
But then she heard her coach, Charlie Kendrick, yelling to gamble on a shot as the Falcons made a last-ditch effort to take the lead in a tie game. So she headed toward the right sideline, where knew she could get her best shot on goal.
Parker gathered herself enough to launch a right-footed shot from about from about 25 yards out toward the left corner, and got the ball past Sahuaro goalkeeper Leah Jarvis with 14 seconds left to give Foothills a 3-2 win over the Cougars at Salpointe Catholic.
"She's been a handful all tournament long," Kendrick said of Parker. "It's a good start to the season but it's clear we've got room to improve."
Catalina Foothills, a three-time defending state champion, took a major hit from graduation after winning the Division II title a year ago. But Parker said the Falcons are focused on continuing to build upon the momentum provided by the teams before them.
"I think we proved that, despite those losses, we can still step up," Parker said. "We're still going to keep that legacy going."
It took Sahuaro (4-2) just over two minutes to strike, scoring when Anyssa Dagnino got behind Catalina Foothills goalkeeper Laura DeMers and nudged the ball into the net.
The Falcons evened the score midway through the first half, then the Cougars struck again in the 24th minute for a 2-1 lead - also the score at the end of the first half, which saw most of the action on Catalina Foothills' side of the field.
But the Falcons tied the score nine minutes into the second half - a goal Kendrick said momentarily calmed his team, which battled nerves throughout the game.
"You're never not going to have nerves," Kendrick said. "But we've got to manage them better."
Despite the loss, Sahuaro coach David Kruszewski said there's plenty for the Cougars to take away from the game - namely a defense that held a dangerous Catalina Foothills team to just nine shots.