With the game tied in double overtime Tuesday in the second round of the state soccer playoffs between Hartselle and Decatur, French sent in the game winning shot that toppled the Red Raiders in a 3-2 win.

Now, for the first time in school history, Hartselle’s girls are headed to the third round of the playoffs.

“It doesn’t even feel real,” French said. “I honestly wasn’t even thinking. I was just watching my teammates, and when I saw the ball go rogue, I just made sure I was there to get it.”

For the second week in a row, Hartselle pulled off a dramatic win in overtime. Hartselle defeated Fort Payne 3-2 last week, and again this week the Tigers showed how great they are in clutch moments.

“Honestly it just comes down to my girls’ resilience and discipline,” Hartselle head coach Chasity Hughes said. “If there’s a way to win, my girls are going to find it. They never stop fighting.”

Photo by Jeronimo Nisa
Hartselle captain Kylie French, right, gets a nudge in the back from Decatur’s Cate McClendon (18) during the playoff game in Hartselle on Monday.

Hartselle took the lead early in the game 1-0 off an Allie Beatty goal, but Decatur responded with two goals — from Hope Bouchillon and Natalie Hill — to take a 2-1 lead at halftime.

Beatty’s second goal early in the second half evened it up, and after that it became a game of whoever scored next would win.

Hartselle goalkeeper Sam Watson played a crucial part in the game, coming up with several clutch saves late to keep the Tigers alive.

“Sam’s work tonight was so important,” Hughes said. “You talk about someone that’s locked in in the postseason, that’s our goalkeeper.”

On the flip side, it was a frustrating night for Decatur as the Red Raiders saw so many game winning chances come up just short.

“We’re used to playing on a turf field, and so part of it was the adjustment we had to make playing on grass,” Decatur head coach Sarah Beth Dunlap said. “My girls worked hard and did everything they could to win this game. The ball just didn’t bounce our way.”

With the win Hartselle will play the winner of Athens and Buckhorn later this week in the third round of the playoffs.

“Round three, first time in Hartselle history, and we’ve got a lot more fight in us,” Hughes said.