Stocked with experienced talent and tagged the team to beat from the start of the season, the top-ranked Notre Dame Prep girls soccer team saved its best for yesterday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game against No. 5 John Carroll.
It was the Blazers' best that was needed.
In a championship game where the standouts took their turns standing out and the rest played their hearts out, it was All-Metro midfielder Zoey Bouchelle who made her final high school touch one to remember.
Bouchelle's third goal of the game with four seconds left in the second 10-minute overtime period lifted the Blazers to a 5-4 win over the Patriots at Mount Washington Field in a match described as "epic" by Notre Dame Prep coach Chris Lopez.
After an 80-minute roller-coaster ride through regulation ended tied at 4, it appeared neither team had much left to find an overtime winner. But the Blazers, who were on the losing end of overtime in last year's final against St. Mary's, wanted to have the final say to cap their 14-1 season.
Four seconds away from a declaration of co-champions, Bouchelle ran on to a header sent in by freshman Cynthia Gamboa and neatly placed a shot under John Carroll keeper Andrea Gaeta that found the far post from 8 yards out on the left side.
"I couldn't ask for anything more," said Bouchelle, who will play at Penn State next fall. "The whole team just played so well today. I think this is the best we've ever played, and it came at just the right time."
John Carroll All-Metro junior forward Ashley Myers scored the first of her three goals in the game's opening minute to set a frantic first-half pace that didn't faze the Blazers, who came back with two goals from junior Beth Koloup and Bouchelle's first to take a 3-1 lead with 13 minutes left in the first half.
Back came Myers and the Patriots. She first headed home a perfectly placed corner kick from senior midfielder Jamie Zimmerman and then found the top right corner from the left edge of the penalty area to tie the game at 3 in the final minute of the first half.
After the Patriots (14-5-1) reclaimed the lead at 4-3 on a goal from Rachel Layer in the 52nd minute, Bouchelle answered midway through the second half.
"As a team, we gave everything we had, and Notre Dame Prep is a great team. We wanted it, they wanted it and it just ended up they scored the winning goal in overtime," Myers said. "But I don't think we could ask for anything more from anyone."
John Carroll coach Gary Lynch agreed: "That's what the game of soccer is meant to be, when you have your best players playing their best and then whatever happens happens. You couldn't ask for anything more."
St. John's-Prospect Hall 2, Severn 1: The frustration continued for the Admirals, who are runners-up a second straight season after yielding a late tying goal and overtime goal to junior Madison Keller.
Severn (10-11) took a 1-0 lead early on a direct kick by senior defender Nikki Johnson, but couldn't convert on other opportunities.
Keller tied the game with a shot from 25 yards in the 69th minute and provided the game-winner three minutes into the second 10-minute overtime.
Park 4, Towson Catholic 2: Sophomore Sarah Gold scored two goals and provided an assist as the Bruins successfully defended their crown with a win over the Owls.
Park, which also got a goal and an assist from senior Nicole Oidick, took control early with two unanswered goals in the first half.
NDP 5, John Carroll 4, 2OT
Goals: N -- Bouchelle 3, Koloup 2; JC -- Myers 3, Layer. Assists: N -- Gamboa, Maunz, Koloup; JC -- Zimmerman. Saves: N -- McArthur 12; JC -- Gaeta 10. Half: 3-3.
St. John's-PH 2, Severn 1, 2OT
Goals: SJ -- Keller 2; S -- Johnson. Assists: SJ -- Baker. Saves: SJ -- Weaver 11; S -- McCord 8. Half: S, 1-0.
Park 4, Towson Catholic 2
Goals: TC-Fugate, Taylor; P-Gold 2, M. McMahon, Oidick. Assists: P-Gold, Oidick, Zerhusen. Saves: TC-Mazurek 10; P-Scherr 8. Half: P, 2-0.