AURORA -- Earlier Wednesday, Kate Vezzani found herself practicing free kicks. She went to a park near her home and fired away with purpose.
Little did she know it would become relevant later that evening …
Vezzani’s goal off a direct free kick from about 30 yards 4 minutes into overtime lifted Mullen to a dramatic 5-4 victory at Legacy Stadium in the opening round of the Centennial League Challenge. It pushed the Mustangs to 3-5 on the season and into a Friday match, 4 p.m., at Arapahoe in the second round.
In her practice session, Vezzani said she was working on getting some loft and it worked. It sailed into the upper part of the goal and past the outstretched arms of the Eaglecrest keeper.
“I just tried to get it over the wall (of Raptors players) and get it in,” she said. “And, yeah, it worked out.”
With her first game-winner in overtime, Vezzani said “it felt really good to do it in overtime … they beat us the last time.”
Eaglecrest won the regular-season matchup 4-3 in double overtime on May 20.
Mustangs head coach Matthew Guglielmo had complete confidence in Vezzani.
“She steps up there, cool as a cucumber, and drills it,” he said.
It capped a fairly wild match. Eaglecrest led 4-2 at halftime, but did not score again. First-half goals by Mattea Parsons and Keelee Rakowski kept Mullen in it, and scores down the stretch by Lizzy Marcoux and Anna Seaman leveled it.
“We are getting there,” Guglielmo said. “It was a big-time game, loads of goals – you don’t like to give up a lot, but you want to score a lot. We attacked, we changed our formation and even when we were down 4-2, then drew level, we subbed a lot of players. We were very attack-minded.
“We had a lot of mistakes in the first half. We lost the ball a lot and had bad passes … we had to win our tackles and we did.”
MULLEN 5, EAGLECREST 4, OT
Mullen 2 2 1 -- 5
Eaglecrest 4 0 0 -- 4
Mullen goals – Mattea Parsons, Keelee Rakowski, Lizzy Marcoux, Anna Seaman, Kate Vezzano..
Mullen assists – Kendall Smith 2, Kate Vezzani 2, Anna Seaman.