‘I just hit it’: Patton’s OT goal after lightning delay sends Raiders to sectional championship game


Quincy Notre Dame's Addlie Flesch, left, gains control of the ball with Alton Marquette's Emma Dempsey applying pressure during Friday night's Class 1A Riverton Sectional semifinal in Riverton, Ill. | Shane Hulsey photo

RIVERTON, Ill. — Lightning strikes delayed the game, but Makayla Patton’s strike decided it.

At the end of a scoreless regulation, lightning near Riverton Middle School forced a 30-minute delay in Friday’s Class 1A Riverton Sectional semifinal between the Quincy Notre Dame and Alton Marquette girls soccer teams.

Seven and a half minutes after the delay, Patton caught lightning in a bottle.

She gathered the ball 30 yards out in the middle of the pitch, took a touch around her defender and fired a left-footed shot to the top left corner of the net for the lone tally of QND’s 1-0 victory.

“There was a defender in front of me so I was like, ‘Maybe I should take another touch,’ so I did and I knew this was my only chance,” Patton said. “So I just hit it.”

A celebration erupted from Patton’s teammates and the strong contingent of QND fans who waited out the delay, but the Raiders still had work to do. They had to defend for the next 12:30 to secure a spot in the sectional championship.

The Explorers came mere inches away from tying the game with four minutes left in the second overtime. From nearly the same spot where Patton scored, Explorers freshman Isabel Hough fired a shot high on Raiders goalkeeper Addison Van Hecke, who used her volleyball skills to keep the ball out of the net.

Like a setter, Van Hecke pushed the ball up with both hands. The ball hit the crossbar and deflected straight down into her arms just outside of the goal.

“I set it into the crossbar, and I was like, ‘Oh, shoot.’ Then I turned around and I was like, ‘Thank the Lord,'” Van Hecke said. “I took a deep breath and was like, ‘Whew.’”

Van Hecke said that shot has caused her trouble all season.

“I’ve definitely struggled with those balls that are close to the crossbar, whether it’s me hitting them and them still going in or whatever,” Van Hecke said. “I’ve just struggled on them wherever they’re from.”

Practice pays off.

“She’s been working on those all year,” Raiders coach Mark Thomas said. “She made a really good save and had great composure after it hit the crossbar to not panic and just grab the ball.”

Explorers coach Brian Hoener said this play showed just how small the margin for error is in such a tightly contested postseason game.

“That was a heck of a soccer game,” Hoener said. “It comes down to a few yards, a few plays here and there. A yard here or there either way, and that can determine who goes on. They found that yard, and they found that play. Hats off to them.”

Each team only mustered seven shots in a physical game that provided each offensive attack with little room to operate. Raiders freshman defender Sierra Thomas — QND’s last line of defense in front of Van Hecke — had several key clearances that halted Explorers’ scoring chances.

“If anyone gets past me, they’re 1-on-1 with the goalie,” she said. “I have to pick up my level of play and support everyone around me. If they lose a ball on the wings, on the sides, or through the middle, I have to help them.”

She also played all 100 minutes, and she could feel it afterward.

“It was definitely way more intense than our regional championship game,” Sierra Thomas said.

The Raiders will rest up ahead of the sectional championship game at 5 p.m. Tuesday. 

“We’ve got to recover and get some ice baths,” Mark Thomas said. “We’re going to enjoy this one right now and get back to things for Tuesday.”

In that sectional championship, the Raiders will seek payback on Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, which eliminated the Raiders in the regional championship game last season. The Cyclones advanced with a 7-1 victory over Greenville in the other semifinal.

“That was definitely hard,” Van Hecke said of that loss. “I didn’t play my best game, but if we show up and play like we did tonight, I think we’ll be just fine.”

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