DOVER — Maddie Hogsten made it look easy.
But her game-winning goal in Tuesday night’s Division II girls’ soccer semifinals match against No. 2 Archmere certainly wasn’t routine for the Indian River sophomore.
With the teams still scoreless entering the 44th minute of play, Hogsten broke free with possession about 35 yards out, separated herself from Auks defenders and rolled a shot into the right corner of the net.
Third-seeded IR made the goal hold up, going onto win 1-0 and advancing to Friday’s championship match versus either No. 1 Caravel or No. 4 Wilmington Friends.
“I get scared, because when I make those runs usually I kick it at the goalie,” Hogsten said was her reaction to the open Dover High field in front of her leading to the score.
“(But), I just watched her (Archmere goalie Kyra Giakas) come at me and I waited. I didn’t hit it hard, just sort of poked it by her.”
The Indians (15-3), having missed out on a few opportunities to double their one-goal advantage, survived a scare with five minutes remaining in the match.
Auks senior Gillian Sweeny hit a perfect cross to Sullivan Bouldan, who was left inside the box with an open look at the net. The Archmere junior’s shot, however, rolled just wide of the left post, and from there IR controlled possession for most of the match’s remainder.
“It was a nice opportunity, nice build up they had,” IR coach Steve Kilby said. “I was thinking the same thing as when we missed one on the back post 10 minutes before that. It’s a game of inches. Fortunately for us, they didn’t get a toe on that.”
Friday’s 5 p.m. final at Smyrna High will be IR’s first appearance in a girls’ soccer championship game. Kilby, though, has coached in a title game twice before, most recently when he led the Indians to a boys’ state championship in 2013.
While he hopes to use that experience to help the girls win their program’s first state title, the coach said there are some different obstacles to overcome leading up to the game.
“You’re dealing with 16- and 17-year-old girls, so your approach is different,” Kilby said. “I think the boys are more focused. So, for us to be in the position is huge and for me it’s a matter of keeping everybody on an even keel.”
One thing he won’t have to worry about is the Indians having peeked with the win over Archmere.
“I feel like this was one of the best games we’ve ever played, (and to win Friday) we just have to play like we did today,” Hogsten said. “We’re so excited.”