Fifteen minutes after she scored the game-winning goal, 10 minutes after the Lowell girls’ soccer team was presented with the trophy and five minutes after the crowd briefly chanted her name, Lupe Gamez was still at a loss for words.
The junior forward was sitting on the bench at Boxer Stadium following Friday’s decisive Game 3 of the Transbay Series, trying to explain the feeling of watching her right-footed shot from 25 yards out hit net after nearly 100 minutes of scoreless soccer. Gamez’s goal in the 97th minute gave the Cardinals (20-3-2) a 1-0 double-overtime win over Oakland Tech and a 2-1 series victory.
“I shot it and saw it go in and I can’t explain what I was thinking — it was such an excitement,” Gamez said. “Just a great feeling.”
In a game where both teams were able to create pressure but there were few clear chances, the prelude to Gamez’s game-winner actually seemed innocent enough. The Cardinals earned a throw-in deep in the Tech end. Gabriela Rustia gathered the ball and drew it back to Gamez, who took one dribble with the outside of her right foot to create some space outside the top-left corner of the 18-yard box. Her high shot curled into the side netting near the far post, and when the Bulldogs were unable to score in the remaining three minutes of overtime Lowell had won its seventh titlein the 11-year history of the Transbay, which pits the champions of the San Francisco and Oakland sections.
Last year, the Bulldogs (12-2-1) didn’t permit a goal in three games to beat the Cardinals.
“When it went in I just thought ‘Finally!’” Lowell goalie Rachel Baskin said. “It was a perfect shot.”
Moments before Lowell took the lead, Baskin had to come far off her line and make a daring save to preserve the scoreless tie. Sophie Quisquater (who scored the only goal in Tech’s 1-0 Game 2 win Thursday) threaded a perfect pass to Alyssa Berkins on the run inside the penalty area. Baskin slid feet-first to deflect it away for one of her 10 saves. Lowell defenders Kenny Ludlow, Mari Novak, Chandra Dawson and Shira Kogan also starred, as the unit limited the Bulldogs to mostly shots from well outside the 18-yard box. Meanwhile, the Cardinals had the ball in the Tech end for large stretches at a time but were unable to break through until Gamez’s late goal.
“I’m so happy for the girls because they’ve worked hard all year,” Lowell coach Ernie Feibusch said. “I can be a tough coach and I made them run a little bit after every practice. And it seems like it was just enough to get it done today.”
Lowell 1, Oakland Tech 0 (OT)
Oakland Tech 0 0 0 0 — 0
Lowell 0 0 0 1 — 1
Second overtime: L—Lupe Gamez (Gabriela Rustia), 97th minute.
Saves: Marika Zumbro (OT) 7, Rachel Baskin (L) 10.