High-pressure moments don't faze Notre Dame senior Brianne Sanders, and she delivered for the Bulldogs one more time.
Sanders and sophomore Abby Boyer worked a give-and-go to create a chance for Sanders in overtime. She sent a low shot into the left corner to lift Notre Dame past De Soto 2-1 in a Class 2 girls soccer sectional game Tuesday.
"There was a space and I had the ball and I saw Abby," Sanders said. "We always work on give-and-goes in practice, so I saw her and she saw me back. It was a perfect opportunity, so I took it. Luckily it went my way today."
Sanders passed to Boyer, who was running to her left along the left side of the field. Boyer didn't keep it for long before threading it back to Sanders, better known as V by her teammates.
Sanders placed her shot between the goalkeeper and post to set off the Bulldogs' celebration with 4 minutes, 25 seconds left in the first 15-minute overtime session.
"I knew it was a shot on goal, and I was hoping the goalie wouldn't be there on time," Sanders said. "Luckily it rolled right past her and right to the spot I aimed for. I was just really excited."
Sanders already has a state title on her resume, which came as the starting left fielder for the softball team during her sophomore year. She also played in the softball final four as a freshman and junior, and the girls basketball final four as a junior, so big spots are nothing new for her.
"She's such a competitor that when it comes down to it, she's one of those players that she's going to give you everything she has, and everyone else feeds off that and can follow that," Notre Dame coach Jeff Worley said. "She makes everyone else better that way."
"Winning state, that's definitely one of my favorite memories ever," she said. "But you have to work up to it, so every win, every goal, everything is a new excitement. You just got to keep pushing and eventually hopefully it leads to state."
Notre Dame needed to fight back against the host Dragons (14-10-1). De Soto capitalized on a Notre Dame turnover to score less than three minutes into the game.
"They were a little bit nervous, and De Soto did a good job of really overloading us in the central midfield where they were kind of having players hang out in certain spots and they were getting some clean looks," Worley said.
But De Soto coach Tony Kuster said his team's early tally also had negative consequences for his squad.
It was during the closing minutes of the first half when the Bulldogs pulled even. Miranda Fowler, who scored the winning goal in overtime in the Bulldogs' district title game win against Farmington, rolled a low shot off the De Soto keeper and into the net with less than five minutes left before intermission.
"We started off a little rough," Sanders said. "We came out and just all told each other slow down, focus, play our game. We definitely started playing to their level at first, and that wasn't our game. We just slowed down and started possessing more."
Notre Dame (13-7) continued to apply pressure in the second half but couldn't pull ahead, which forced the Bulldogs into their second consecutive overtime game.
"We were a little shaky," Notre Dame junior Sarah Lawrence said about her team's attitude after regulation. "I could tell. We were a little shaky at first, but once again, we had to push through it, just like the last time. It was tough."
Both teams had decent chances in the overtime session, including when De Soto's Maddie Carder sent a shot into the stomach of Notre Dame keeper Madison Buelow.
"We just didn't capitalize on the opportunities we had," Kuster said. "We really let too many of their players run around too much. We might just have been tired, I don't know. It's hard to pinpoint."
It was Notre Dame who punched its ticket into the state quarterfinal when Boyer and Sanders worked together for the winner. It means Sanders' high school career still isn't over, despite graduating over the weekend.
"I'm definitely excited that we're still playing," she said. "My freshman year we made it to quarterfinals -- that's when my sister played. It's definitely like going back. I want to end on a really good note. I want to end my high school career playing with all my friends, and I don't really want it to be over."
Notre Dame will host Saturday's state quarterfinal against Rosati-Kain, a 4-0 winner over Lutheran South. The game is set for 7 p.m.
"We knew we had to push through it," Lawrence said. "We knew we wanted to make it past sectionals."