Meghan Rose was so mad last year when the South Delta Devils knocked her team out the Fraser Valley playoffs.
They were lucky, beating Sardis on a sketchy penalty call that haunted Rose for 12 long months.
Until Wednesday, because that’s when Rose got her revenge.
With less than half a minute to play in an intense game against those same Devils, No. 18 in green got payback with a seeing-eye shot that found a sliver of space between the South Delta keeper and the right goal post.
Her dramatic strike gave the Falcons a 3-2 win and a spot in provincials.
And it crushed the Devils’ dreams.
“I cried last year when we didn’t make it,” Rose said. “They (South Delta) got a penalty kick in the last minute that the referee shouldn’t have called. They scored and that was it.”
“I’m so happy now, and I just want to win it all.”
High school soccer games don’t get more entertaining than this, with two evenly matched teams going toe-to-toe for 96 minutes in an ultra-intense showdown.
The Falcons are used to being bigger and stronger than any opponent.
But South Delta didn’t give an inch and nearly escaped with the win.
Twice the Devils led, opening the scoring nine minutes in on a lob shot over the head of Sardis keeper Makena Lejeune.
A Mackenzie Silbernagel strike had the Falcons even at half-time (1-1), but South Delta led again just four minutes into the second half with a header off a corner kick.
Sardis was the better team, but for a while it felt like it might not be their day.
Even the weather seemed to conspire against them, howling in their face throughout the first half and dying down to nothing in the second half when it might have been an advantage.
Nikki Gregory exemplified the Falcon frustration.
The speedy striker with the fantastic footwork was knocked around like a sock in a dryer every time she ventured down the right wing.
Eventually she had enough, coming in with a hard tackle on a Delta defender.
She was given a yellow card.
“I kept getting knocked and got frustrated and it just had to happen,” she said with a laugh. “I was so mad at them.”
A voice on the Sardis sideline suggested at one point that Gregory go down to draw a foul. She didn’t want to do that.
“Sometimes you have to do that to get the free kicks,” she said. “But I wanted to keep fighting out there, stay tough and keep playing hard.”
Like Rose, Gregory made the Devils pay in the best way possible when she tied the game at twos midway through the second half.
From a sharp angle and quite a ways out on the right side, Gregory looped a high-arching circus shot over the head of the South Delta keeper, slipping it under the cross-bar at the top left corner.
It was either incredibly precise, incredibly lucky or a combination of the two — the type of shot seen on English Premier League highlights.
“It felt really good, like in your face!” Gregory laughed.
That set the stage for Rose’s winner.
It was Talia Ferris making the feed, one of several excellent passes she made in this game. Rose wiggled her way into space and launched her shot.
“Oh my gosh, it felt so good I thought I was going to cry,” Rose said with a grin.
Sardis coach Richard Tagle suggested afterwards that this was the best game his team has played all year.
“I’d for sure agree with that,” Rose said.
“We haven’t played a team that’s been that physical and that much of a challenge,” Gregory added. “We’ve had a lot of games that were like 10-0, but this was a big battle.”
So it’s off to provincials, which run June 2-4 in Tsawwassen.
“We’re awesome,” Rose said when asked how good she thinks her team is.
“Every game from this point on is going to be as hard as this one,” Gregory said. “We’ve got to keep working hard and believe in ourselves. If we play like we did today we’ll do great.”