One bad bounce was all it took to spoil SUU soccer's home opener.
UC-Riverside forward Andrea Morales connected on a game-winning goal in the 112th minute after SUU goalkeeper Charly Booth halted Morales' penalty kick attempt moments prior, to lead UCR past the T-Birds 2-1 in double overtime Sunday afternoon at Thunderbird Soccer Park.
"Even though we lost today, we lost on a penalty kick, and that's like the worst way to lose," Booth said. "It doesn't determine which team is better, it just determines that they get a free shot and a free win."
Morales was awarded a penalty kick after a foul in the box in front of the goal. Booth blocked Morales' initial blast with a diving save, but the ricochet went closest to Morales who was able to race to the ball and tap in the game-winner.
Players on the pitch appeared puzzled after Booth's save, believing that Morales was offside when she connected on the goal.
"There was confusion because there's a rule saying the girl kicking the (penalty shot) can't kick it again until someone else has kicked it," Booth said. "But I guess that counts for me, too. I touched it; she could kick it. I don't think all our defenders could react quickly enough to get back and get the second save. That was crucial between winning and losing."
T-Bird head coach Becky Hogan said she thought her players were surprised after Booth's diving stop.
"Our team was just shocked, we just stood there," she said. "Their team rushed and we were all like waiting to see what Charly did. They got there first. We have some of the fastest girls on the field and they couldn't get there, but I'd rather learn that lesson now rather than in (Big Sky play)."
The goal negated what was an impressive save for Booth, who said she was prepared for Morales' shot.
"I saw the angle she was going and she was looking (right), as I was like 'okay she's looking hard in that direction, I'm going to go the other direction," Booth said. "And then she was coming up to kick (left) and I just dove. I dove too far, so it bounced off my leg and went back to her."
"My pass to Sabrina, I was like 'oh she's gonna score' and then it popped out and then I was like 'oh no.' My body took over and didn't really have to think about it — just shot it ... I guess (Booth) was saying when I shot the ball, before it even went in I turned around and just threw up my hands because I knew it was going in. It was just really fun to be able to do that for my team." - SUU Forward Madison Wood
UCR outshot SUU 19-7 in the game. Booth collected seven saves for the T-Birds, while Highlander goalkeeper Jessica White compiled three.
The game went into overtime after a scoreless second half for both teams. SUU took the lead in the 30th minute on a goal by forward Madison Wood.
Wood passed the ball to fellow forward Sabrina Hernandez, but after Hernandez collided with a defender and White, the ball shot back to Wood, who was able to connect on a laser from the top of the box.
For Wood, it was a goal in her first career collegiate game.
"My pass to Sabrina, I was like 'oh she's gonna score' and then it popped out and then I was like 'oh no,'" Wood said. "My body took over and didn't really have to think about it — just shot it ... I guess (Booth) was saying when I shot the ball, before it even went in I turned around and just threw up my hands because I knew it was going in. It was just really fun to be able to do that for my team."
SUU maintained the 1-0 lead briefly, until UCR defender Ashley Graves connected on the equalizer in the 37th minute. Graves was able to redirect the ball on a shot near the net for the goal.
Both teams had several great opportunities to break the tie in regulation, but were unable find the back of the net.
Hogan said the team has been working on finishing shots throughout the week in practice, and said that the missed opportunities will turn into goals in the future.
"We kept hitting the post and have some ricochets, so we'll get better in a couple of weeks," she said.
"They're going to get better, they were already better today than last week at Utah State," - SUU head coach Becky Hogan
In the waning moments of the first overtime, made Booth stopped a shot with her head.
"When that ball was being shot across, I was just getting by butt across the goal in position to get the rebound," Booth said. "That thing came at me so fast, I didn't even have time to get my hands there quick enough and then it hit my head, hit my hands and I was like 'oh there it is.'"
Morales' goal came two and a half minutes into the second overtime period, and seven minutes before the game would have ended in a tie had neither team scored.
Despite falling in the season opener, Hogan said she saw major improvements in SUU's play compared to last week's 1-0 exhibition loss to Utah State, adding that she thinks the team will continue to improve with more practice and games.
"They're going to get better, they were already better today than last week at Utah State," she said.
The game started an hour later than the scheduled starting time, as thunderstorms loomed around the field.
SUU forward Sydney Cook received a yellow card in the 60th minute.
The T-Birds will return to the pitch Thursday at the University of Utah. Thursday's game is slated to start at 7:30 p.m. in Salt Lake City.