Whitcomb, Hill lead Jordan in girls' soccer playoff opener

May. 13, 2014 @ 09:57 PM

Jordan goalkeeper Genevieve Whitcomb has been on a journey of self-discovery in the net as a sophomore.

When Laney midfielder Anna Rae Porcelli stepped in front of her and shot with 7:22 left in the second half of a white-knuckle playoff game with the outcome on the line she took another step down that path.

“That was frightening, but I knew that for us to keep playing as a team we had to win this one, so I figured I should probably save this one,” Whitcomb said. “I was like, ‘Oh God, don’t let this go in the goal.’ ”

She made the clutch save at point-blank range, and Jordan won 1-0 Tuesday night to advance to the second round of the state 4-A playoffs. The Falcons likely will play Friday night against the winner of New Hanover and Millbrook.

“I just kept my eye on the ball, and just thought of the basics, like keep my hands together, and watch the ball, and it worked out in my favor,” Whitcomb said of her dramatic save. But there was that time-frozen moment of uncertainty.

“It bounced right off my shoulder and I was like, ‘Where’s the ball?’ But I found it,” Whitcomb said, refusing to take sole credit for saving the game. “I have a really good defense, so that always helps because they did a lot of the saves for me.”

“She played really, really well, and I know that for her coming in as a sophomore, regardless of her skill level, she didn’t have the confidence, especially as a keeper, at the beginning of the season,” Jordan coach Sarah Kaneko said.

“And that’s something she’s been building” as the season progressed, Kaneko said. “I know she will feel more comfortable next year.”

Senior forward Rachel Hill scored the winning goal with :47 left in the first half.

“She’s excellent up top. She’s a four-year starting varsity member,” Kaneko said.

“She pulled the keeper out and had a really light tap into the corner, and being able to make those decisions in a high-pressure game, high-pressure situation is something she’s very good at,” Kaneko said.

Hill is part of a solid trio up top that Kaneko said is a key to the Falcons’ success. The others are junior forward Stephanie Quintanilla and senior forward Millicent Blivin.

“I feel fortunate that we have depth attacking up top so that we can play that way,” Kaneko said.

Hill said it was good for the team composure and confidence to get that first playoff win squared away.

“It was a close one, but I think the score doesn’t reflect how well we played tonight,” Hill said. “We did really well controlling the ball, and passing together. It was definitely a group effort.”

She said with time running out in the first half and the ball coming her way, her single-minded thought was, “Gotta score, gotta get it in.”

Blivin took control of the ball at midfield, and Hill made eye contact with her.

“There was a gap between the defenders and if I ran I knew Millie would get it to me. I shot the gap and just had to slip it on the ground past the keeper,” Hill said.

“I definitely visualized it going in before I shot. As soon as the keeper made her move, that’s when I went to the bottom right corner,” Hill said.

Trying to maintain a one-goal lead the whole second half was nerve wracking, Kaneko said.

“I knew that some of the momentum from that first goal would be lost in the break time. So I told them to go out, pretend like it’s 0-0, and continue to act like you need to score so that we didn’t rest and settle too much” in the second half, Kaneko said.

“They continued to attack,” she said. “They had a couple of opportunities to finish that we didn’t execute, but overall I felt good going into the second half.”