CONYERS - The game was a scoreless tie for more than 79 minutes.
But with 34 seconds left in the game, Marist's Laura Eddy beat two Salem defenders deep in the box and planted a shot in the upper right-hand corner of the goal to give the Lady War Eagles a 1-0 win over Salem on Wednesday at Reid Memorial Stadium in the semifinal round of the Class AAAA tournament.
The loss was a heartbreaking end to the season for the Lady Seminoles (16-3-1) in what has been a magical ride for coach Heather Richardson and her players.
"I told them before the game that they needed to leave everything on the field, so that when the game was over, no matter what the result, they would have no regrets. I think they did that tonight," Richardson said. "I don't think they could have played any harder."
The first half was a back-and-forth battle with both teams producing quality scoring opportunities.
Although Marist (18-0) had significantly more shots on goal than Salem, the Lady Seminoles were not without their moments of greatness.
One of Salem's best scoring opportunities came in the first seven minutes of the game when Taylor Gates ripped a shot on goal that bounced off the hands of the Marist goalkeeper with 33:15 showing on the clock.
Jordan Young also nearly had a goal early in the second half, but her shot was also deflected by a diving effort by the goalkeeper.
Overall, Marist outshot Salem 19-4 in the game. Salem only notched one shot on goal in the second half.
Still, the Lady Seminoles showed a flicker of life in the final 10 minutes of the game. Unfortunately for Salem, one of those scoring opportunities led to the Marist goal.
"They (Marist) scored on a quick counterattack after we pushed up and had a good scoring opportunity. But that's the name of the game. In soccer, you've got to be able to capitalize on the counterattack," Richardson said. "Still, I'm not taking anything away from my players. We were playing to win."
Richardson said her team played with heart throughout the season, and for that reason, they will always be winners.
"This is a special team. They've worked hard all year," Richardson said. "I know it's tough now, but I think when they look back on this season, they'll know just how special a season it was."
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.