To have any chance to make up for her mistake, Marissa Martelli needed to put her body on the line. The West Forsyth goalie’s leg paid a price for her efforts, but Chattahoochee’s comeback hopes took a much harder hit.
Martelli’s sliding save put the brakes on the No. 8-ranked Cougars’ rally, and No. 7 West capped off a brilliant defensive performance with a 12-6 victory on Tuesday at Wolverine Stadium.
Martelli had a pass intercepted by a Chattahoochee player in front of the net with just over 11 minutes remaining in the game and the Wolverines leading 11-4. With no other West player in the area the Cougars appeared headed for their third consecutive goal in a three-minute span, but Martelli sprinted several yards and slid in front of the net to deflect the shot off her shin.
"That was SportsCenter top 10," West head coach Dan Kaplan said. "I’ll send it to Stuart Scott myself.
"I think that took [Chattahoochee’s] heart away. If they would have scored they would have gotten momentum. I think that save stopped their momentum."
Chattahoochee’s hopes of a rally were already slim.
West (13-2, 5-2 Area 3-AAAAAA) built an 11-2 lead by outscoring the Cougars (11-2, 5-1) 8-0 during a 30-plus minute stretch of playing time spanning the two halves.
"We were just marking up really well and our slides were good, and our crashes were good, too," Martelli said.
"We knew that if we won this we’d have a higher seed in playoffs. That means a lot to us because we’ve worked really hard to get here."
Chattahoochee came into the contest averaging 15 goals per game and had not scored fewer than 10 goals in a game this season.
Martelli saved eight of the Cougars’ 14 shots. She scored 20 goals as an attacker last season, but switched to goalie this season in an effort to strengthen the team.
"She is the most unselfish athlete I’ve ever been around in coaching 21 years of football and lacrosse," Kaplan said.
Hannah Supik (3 goals) notched a hat trick for West, while Cece Bailey, Sarah Grady and Monica Martelli scored two goals apiece. Haley Hess, Lindsey Lindaman and McKinley Puckett each added one goal.
Grady, a freshman who stands less than five feet tall, scored two of West’s first four goals and tallied her second goal after Chattahoochee cut the lead to 3-2 with 18:13 remaining in the second half.
"‘Tiny’ is her nickname," Kaplan said. "Tiny Grady gave us some great energy at the beginning of the game.
"Our purpose was to sub our middies and she made two huge goals that kept our momentum going."
The Cougars didn’t score again until the 13:33 mark in the second half, but they cut the lead to 11-6 with 4:58 remaining by holding West without a goal for more than 18 minutes of play.
"We had that little four- or five-minute period where they made their goals, but we withstood [it]," Kaplan said.
"We’re trying to make a late season push as far as we can and see what happens. Beating that kind of team is great for our program."
West had already clinched a playoff spot prior to facing the Cougars, but the victory gives the team a chance to finish as high as the No. 2 seed in Area 3-AAAAAA.