Edison High sophomore Rachelle Elve got a little beat up in a physical Sunset League game on a chilly Tuesday evening, physically if not mentally.
Elve, who stands just 5-foot-4, got a bit of a shiner after taking an elbow to the face during the first half of the key game against Huntington Beach. And she subbed in and out a couple of times, which Edison Coach Kerry Crooks said was mainly a move aimed at keeping Elve's confidence up.
That may not be a problem now. Elve's confidence may have been at an all-time high after Tuesday's result.
She scored the golden goal in the final minute of overtime as the Chargers beat the Oilers, 1-0, at Edison to stay in outright first place in league.
Edison (10-4-2, 3-0 in league) stayed ahead of the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division Division 1 and Orange County, Los Alamitos (2-0-1 in league). The Griffins earned a 3-0 victory over Newport Harbor on Tuesday.
For the Chargers, it was the second straight golden goal win after senior defender Taylor Wasserman scored it last week against Fountain Valley. This time, it stunned two-time defending league champion Huntington Beach (11-5-5, 1-1-1).
After 80 scoreless minutes of regulation, the teams played two 10-minute overtime periods. Near the end of the second one, the game appeared headed to a tie. But not so fast.
Two players bumped heads, leading to a "dropped ball" situation on the Chargers' side of the field. Edison senior Cassidy Helenihi won it and played it up the field toward Elve.
Huntington Beach goalie Rachel Harris (four saves) came out to challenge, but Elve got the ball past her at the top of the box, sliding and scoring the winning goal.
"It kind of happened in seconds," Elve said. "I tried to touch it around the keeper. She got a touch on it, but it went out of her hands. It was rolling toward the goal, and I just put it in. The defender and the keeper were coming at me, and I didn't really have a good angle, so I had to [shoot] it to the back post.
"It felt so good. We've been wanting to beat them all week. The whole game, my coach was telling us, 'You've got to want the ball and get more into the game.' So I just knew I had to finish it."
Huntington Beach had dominated possession in the second half of the game, keeping the ball in the Edison zone nearly the whole time. Junior Alijah Oliver, who was her team's own golden goal hero in the league opener against Newport Harbor, kept creating chances, along with sophomore Jenna Nighswonger.
Credit the steady play of Edison senior keeper Zoe Clevely, who finished with six saves in the game, for getting the game to extra time.
"Despite the result, I felt that our team actually applied what we were asking them to do," Huntington Beach Coach Raul Ruiz said. "We did perform better in that second half. We settled in. We had more possession, had more opportunities. Unfortunately, when it comes to overtime, anything can happen. We made a huge mistake, and we paid for it. All we can do is learn from it and move forward.
"It was a little bit of miscommunication between our center back and the keeper. [We needed] someone to take initiative and clear the ball, and I think we got overconfident and we didn't see the forward running on from behind, stepping in front and stealing the ball. It was something that looked easy — just clear it and that's it — but unfortunately that forward took the initiative and put the ball in the back of the net. Tough one."
Edison won the teams' second and more important meeting of the season, after Huntington Beach claimed a 2-1 victory in a fifth-place semifinal of the Excalibur Tournament on Dec. 29. The teams are also guaranteed another meeting in the second time through league play, on Jan. 31 at the Oilers' field.
Both teams had a good chance to score in the first half Tuesday night. Edison senior Mikayla Edwards saw her shot from outside the box hit off the top of the crossbar and out of bounds. Minutes later, Oliver earned separation in the box as the Chargers defender fell down, but Clevely was there for the save.
But no, this game would go to overtime.
And in the 100th minute, Elve found the back of the net.
"That was definitely a big-time play," Crooks said. "Honestly, I didn't think we played well, we just found an answer. We do play a lot of games, though, [in practice], OT, last goal wins, that kind of stuff. They're used to that. We try to put ourselves in that position all the time during practice."