Harrison High School girls soccer player Tyara Vazquez found herself in familiar territory June 5 at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.
Harrison battled James Irwin on the pitch and the freshman striker needed to net a direct kick in the second half to stave off overtime and give Harrison the win.
Earlier this season, Vazquez had the chance to score on a direct kick, but the shot sailed wide of the net.
However, against James Irwin, she scored twice on direct kicks including a 35 yarder with four seconds left in regulation that gave her team a 2-1 victory. The win moved Harrison to 3-3 this season.
“You have to believe in yourself and in everyone around you,” Vazquez said. “I was confident with myself after the first (goal) and with the support of my teammates that really helped with the second (goal).”
Vazquez’s missed direct kick lingered on her confidence for a few games and her coach, Katy Goodson recognized her freshman’s internal struggle.
“She got way in her head and she’s been punishing herself ever since,” Goodson said. “As soon as I saw her hit that first (direct kick) I knew she had arrived. When I saw that kick I said, ‘It’s all you and I trust you 100%.’ She hit a shot I don’t think any goalie could save.”
The freshman’s first strike broke a 0-0 tie with 10 seconds left in the first half.
After a James Irwin penalty awarded Harrison a direct kick, Vazquez placed the ball on the ground near Harrison’s bench.
Vazquez awaited the ref’s whistle, took her shot from 37 yards and watched the ball sail over the goalkeeper’s head for a 1-0 lead.
“I was nervous at first because I haven’t been kicking penalties very well,” Vazquez said. “I looked at the goal, kicked it and it went in. I was confident enough to kick it high and it helped with my parents cheering me on.”
Harrison needed nearly the entire half to get the lead, but James Irwin erased the deficit to make it 1-1 with 38:40 left in the second half.
Harrison, coming off a game at Woodland Park on June 4 and soaking in the heat with their black uniforms on an 82-degree day, showed signs of fatigue throughout the second half.
Players hunched over and didn’t have the same acceleration as the first 40 minutes.
Vazquez hoped Harrison could end the game in regulation to avoid additional exhaustion.
Harrison didn’t have many opportunities to grab the lead in the second half with just eight shots on goal. The final shot on goal happened to be the dagger to end the contest.
As the clock dwindled from 10 seconds in regulation, it stopped with four ticks remaining as Harrison earned another direct kick due to a James Irwin penalty.
This time, from 35 yards away, Vazquez had the opportunity to reclaim the lead and seal the win.
She went through her routine and, almost identical to her first strike, Vazquez kicked the ball over the gloves of the keeper, into the back of the net and jumped into the arms of teammate Michelle Markland as they celebrated the go-ahead goal.
“I just saw the goal and said I’m going to hit it top end,” Vazquez said. “My coach and everyone was cheering me on from the sideline, so that gave me a confidence boost.”
Goodson wasn’t surprised by Vazquez’s first goal nor her second shot. Goodson recognizes the freshman’s talent and said she was happy to watch Vazquez rediscover her abilities.
Goodson added that she’s confident in her team and expected them to win 5-0 against James Irwin. However, she’s grateful to leave with a 2-1 victory.
“They’re a great young team but they don’t always believe in themselves, so this was a good way for them to see how great they are,” Goodson said. “(Vazquez) is one of those players who is beyond talented. I don’t think she realizes how much the team trusts her and how much her energy and confidence inspires them. (This game) really helped with that.”