By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Scoring her first 132 goals was relatively easy for Lyndsey Thompson.
Getting the next one, which would give her the state record for career goals, was hard.
Downright nervewracking, in fact.
“Before the games, people were telling me, ‘I know you’re going to score that goal tonight,’ and it made me real nervous,” Thompson said.
Four games in a row she was thwarted, by superior teams or junk defenses.
But with 16 seconds remaining before halftime of the Tigers’ Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 tournament game with Oak Hill Monday night, Thompson finally found release.
A throw-in bounced around the edge of the box, where Thompson corralled it, drove straight at Red Devils keeper Brianna Ovalle and fired from 20 feet out.
Ovalle got her hands up, but could not hold on to the ball. Thompson got her record, and with her two other goals gave Shady a hard-earned 3-0 victory at Paul Cline Stadium.
With the win, the Tigers advance to today’s 5 p.m. semifinal game with top seed Princeton at Everett Bailey Field.
The record goal was Thompson’s third shot of the contest. Her first was easily saved by Ovalle, while her second soared out of the stadium.
She admittedly wasn’t herself on the pitch.
“There was a lot of pressure. Everybody was asking me about the record and depending on me to get it,” she said. “I was afraid of disappointing people.”
On her third try, Thompson let loose with a cannon shot, low and difficult to stop.
“It was a lucky goal, not that great,” she said. “I think it went in because it was a really hard shot. I took out some anger on it.”
The score broke the ice, for both Thompson and the Tigers. Although they had beaten Oak Hill twice previously, 3-1 away and 10-0 on Oct. 1 at Cline Stadium, they were now struggling.
Thompson had scored five goals in the previous game with Oak Hill (3-15-3), and her freshman sister Hannah had scored two.
But this time, the Red Devils were winning balls, and they kept play in the Shady half for most of the opening 40 minutes.
“We’re growing up. We’ve been getting some game experience,” coach Dave Pollard said. “I told them to focus on what they’d been doing during the last few weeks of the season, when they were getting better and better.”
But while Oak Hill was battling hard, so was the Shady defense. The Red Devils never took a shot on goal in either half.
The Tigers had five in the opening 40 minutes, and eight in the second stanza.
“At halftime we got some fire under us,” coach Rachel Kincaid said. “I told them, ‘If we don’t win, we go home.’ We really needed to focus and get the work done.”
Shady began raining shots on Ovalle. She saved attempts by Bri Bevell and Hannah Thompson, and then made a highlight-reel, fully extended, diving stop of a shot by Lyndsey Thompson.
But Thompson found paydirt on her next two tries, sealing a hat trick, and putting the game out of reach.
“All my nerves were gone when I knew I had that record,” she said.
Kincaid added, “When Lyndsey finally got that goal, she eased up a little bit and it was easier for her to score.
“I’m so proud of her. She had worked hard to reach her goals. She’s fought through injuries, but she never wanted out of the game. She’s an example of pushing through when times get rough.”
Bevil took two more shots and Thompson had another, but Ovalle came up strong to hold the count at 3-0.
It was the final game for Oak Hill seniors Erin Heeter (defender) and Zoe Gray (midfielder).
The Red Devils will return most of their defense, including sophomore standout Miranda Jones.
“She’s our stopper. She wins balls,” Pollard said. “She’s a little fireplug.”
Woodrow Wilson hosts Greenbrier East at 5 p.m. today in the other semifinal. The championship game is set for Thursday at a time and location to be determined.
— E-mail: dstillwell@