Saltillo breaks Lafayette curse in 5A semifinals

Jan. 30—SALTILLO — Saltillo finally broke through against Lafayette.

Thanks to an own goal in the second overtime period, the Lady Tigers held on to beat the Lady Commodores 3-2 on Monday and advance to the Class 5A state title game.

This was the fourth-straight year these teams met in the semifinals, with Lafayette winning the previous three matchups. Saltillo is making its first trip to a state championship game and will face the Florence-West Harrison winner at Brandon High School on Saturday.

"It feels awesome," junior Caroline Hamm said. "I cannot even express to you how awesome that felt. It's such a high, oh my gosh, and God is so, so good."

It was Hamm who sent a long pass deep into the box in the second OT. She was looking for O.J. Miller, but the ball caromed off a Lafayette defender and into the goal three minutes into the period to break the 2-2 deadlock.

"You put (the ball) in a dangerous area, good things happen," Saltillo coach Matthew Reeder said.

Miller, a sophomore, got the Lady Tigers (17-3) off to a fast start, scoring two goals within the first four minutes of the match. Her first score came on a free kick from about 40 yards out that looped just beyond the reach of the goal keeper.

Miller's next goal was a tracer from just inside the box.

"She's kind of been in a slump, but she got herself out of that tonight," Reeder said. "She set the tone for us, which helped settle us in the game."

Lafayette (17-5-1), however, got a huge goal from Caroline Perkins in the final seconds of the first half to make it 2-1. The Lady Dores carried that momentum into the second half, when they heavily controlled possession.

Madelyn Ahmed poked one past Saltillo goalie Lynley McCarley to tie the game in the 59th minute. But McCarley, a freshman, would not allow another score despite a barrage of Lafayette shots.

The visitors finished with 14 shots on goal, with 11 of those coming after halftime. McCarley made a diving effort to bat away a Lillie Grace McCutchen shot in the first overtime.

"She kept us in the game multiple times," Reeder said.