05/04/08 — Cornman boots crucial penalty kick

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Cornman boots crucial penalty kick

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 4, 2008 2:01 AM

PRINCETON -- "Gabby! You take it."

An astonished Gabby Cornman looked toward coach Eddie Maldonado.

Cornman pointed to herself.

"Me?" she asked.

Maldonado shook his head, "yes."

Cornman slowly stepped to the penalty kick line, took a deep breath and waited for the whistle. Two seconds later, the sophomore drilled a high shot past Princeton keeper Morgan Brush and lifted Rosewood to a come-from-behind, 2-1 overtime victory Friday evening.

"Oh my gosh," said Cornman. "They decided, at the last minute, I should do it. He told me to just pick a corner, don't change your mind and go through with it. That's what I did."

Cornman's PK gave the Eagles (12-5-1 overall) their second consecutive Class 1-A Carolina Conference championship and the automatic berth in the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. Pairings should be announced today on the Association's website.

Princeton, a third-year program, logged a school-record 10 victories and is eligible for one of 17 wild-card entries available in the 32-team eastern bracket.

A handball in the box set up Cornman's game-winning boot.

"You never like the refs to decide the game for you," said Princeton head coach Tim Besel. "It would have been nice if it was called outside the box, and let the better team win. It's tough to lose on that and I would have rather ended the night on a tie."

The Dawgs almost ended the night with their seventh shutout of the season.

Junior Olivia Booker broke the scoreless draw in the 65th minute. With Rosewood sweeper Kelly Cosgrove closing in from behind, Booker dribbled into the 18-yard box and drew keeper Taylor Johnson off her line. Taylor dropped to her knees and sprawled out for the glove save, but the ball bounced past her and into the open net.

"That put the pressure on us," said Cornman.

Play became more physical as Princeton worked to protect its one-goal advantage. The Eagles (5-1 Carolina) increased the tempo and intensity, while the Dawgs tightened their defense.

Rosewood finally organized a successful attack in the 73rd minute. Mary Jo Moore, who provided the game-winning goal against Princeton on Monday, gained possession at midfield. She dribbled into the Dawgs' defensive third and fired a pass to Cornman, who out-raced her defender down the left side.

Cornman ran onto the ball and laced a perfect right-footed shot, which curled just inside the near post past a diving Brush.

"It was like slow motion," said Cornman. "I knew I had to put it in."

The Eagles missed a game-winning chance in the 77th minute. Junior Kaitlyn Conger fired a pass across the goal mouth and Francesca Verceles-Zera couldn't catch up to it.

Just two minutes into the first overtime, Conger got another goal-scoring opportunity. But the Rosewood faithful "aahed" in exasperation when Conger's shot just missed at the near post.

Cornman's goal occurred two minutes into the second OT.

"Princeton took control in the second half," said Maldonado. "We were lucky. Gabby saved our tails tonight. These girls didn't quit, worked and played to the very end.

"I just can't say enough about the job they did tonight."