Homestead was less than 30 seconds away from what would've been the biggest win of the season.
But Noblesville's frantic attempts to regain possession and score the equalizer paid off, as Millers senior Jenna Chatterton broke free of Spartans defenders, who had shut down every attack to that point. With 24.3 seconds left, Chatterton beat goalkeeper Holly Cole with a dagger of a shot that left the match in a 1-1 draw.
“It's incredibly frustrating,” Spartans senior Lauren Moellering said. “We want to win and we want to be the best, and to have that happen, it was a little disheartening. But if anything, when it comes tournament time, if we meet them again, it's just going to be fuel to our fire. We're going to come out harder, stronger and faster.”
Noblesville (6-0-2), the No. 3 team in the state according to the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association coaches' poll, pressured the Homestead defense from the get-go, although the Millers did not put many shots on goal.
“I think Sophia White, our centerback, and Paige Archbold, they shut everything down,” Homestead coach Rick Link said. “They played tremendous for us.”
Cole made three saves before Chatterton's last-minute shot got by her.
Moellering said she felt that the No. 6 Spartans' offense started to get rolling late in the first half, though the match went into halftime deadlocked 0-0. Moellering finally broke the tie 20 minutes into the second half, when her shot from the right side banged off the left post and ricocheted into the net.
“The ball comes back out to Abby Adams, and she's looking to cross it back in and I'm calling for it,” Moellering recounted. “She slips it back to me, I take a peek at the goal. I see that upper left corner, and I'm like, all right, it's happening. Hit my foot just right, it peaks up and over, and then it goes in. I was ecstatic, if I'm being quite honest.”
Homestead (7-2-1) has now faced the top three teams in the state, losing to current No. 1 Hamilton Southeastern 5-1 and No. 2 Evansville Memorial 2-1 in August.
“We knew quite a bit coming into it,” Moellering said of the Millers. “We knew they had some pretty great keepers. We knew their forwards up top are really good. They seemed to score all around, so we knew they had a lot of offensive threats. But we knew that if we played our game, we could definitely hang with them, and it was going to be a battle to the end.”