FERNDALE - Through 82 minutes, the Bellingham-Ferndale girls' soccer match seemed destined for a 1-1 tie.
It would have been a fitting end, too, considering both teams scrounged and fought through a frigid afternoon in a match that had no postseason ramifictations for either team.
But a quick corner from Ferndale's Carly Bannerman found the head of Jordin Bartel with 15 second remaining in extra time, and the Golden Eagles defeated the Red Raiders 2-1 on Monday, Oct. 28, in a Northwest Conference matchup in Ferndale.
Bartel received the perfectly lofted corner from Bannerman and headed the ball into the right corner of the net to seal the win.
"I just saw it floating, and I knew I needed to go right at it," Bartel said on scoring the final goal.
Both Ferndale (8-5-2, NWC 7-4-1) and Bellingham (7-4-5, NWC 6-3-3) are in action on Saturday, Nov. 2, with the Golden Eagles starting play in the Class 3A Northwest District Tournament, and the Red Raiders facing Archbishop Murphy in the first round of the Class 2A Bi-District Tournament.
Bartel's header capping her two-goal performance is something the Golden Eagles' coaching staff has pushed its players to improve upon. Now they see why.
"I know we have talked a lot about winning balls in the air," said David Lugo, who coached in place of Ferndale's varsity coach, Joe Gonzalez, who was out of town. "That was kind of a weakness we had ... and we had Jordin, who typically does win those balls, and she went in and scored a good goal."
Bartel also scored the Golden Eagles' first goal in the 28th minute off a cross from Jazzy Ahrens. Ahrens dumped the ball into the right corner of the box where Bartel negotiated a scrum of defenders to trickle the ball past Bellingham keeper Hannah Jacobus.
The Red Raiders maintained possession for much of the final 12 minutes heading into halftime, but a physical Ferndale defense led by Bannerman continued to keep Bellingham at an arm's length. The only other legitimate try for the rest of the first half came from Bartel again from 25 yards out when she struck a low liner that forced Jacobus to make a fully-extended dive to her left to prevent the ball from reaching the back of the net.
The frustrating half came to an end for Bellingham, and Mark Wright, the Red Raiders' coach, took the opportunity to point out something that had been troubling him.
He noticed that his team wasn't being aggressive enough when it came to winning that "second ball," as he put it.
"I just (tried) to get them to understand that if you want to win, it is hard to win soccer games," Wright said. "Soccer is hard enough. It's hard to score. It's hard to keep balls out of the net, (but) the hardest thing is just to put on the impression that you are going to win balls."
His team responded by controlling the ball in the early minutes of the second half, leading to Mariah Miller's game-tying goal. Miller received a pass from Mary Dyrland, and Miller found herself in a one-on-one with Ferndale keeper Linsey Honeycutt. Miller struck the ball into the right corner to beat Honeycutt for her third goal of the season.
Bartel's final header ended both teams' regular seasons, but the match was anything but meaningless to the two, or atleast that is what the overall physical play suggested.
"It was one of those games that neither team had too much to gain or lose for it, they just wanted to make sure they saw it out, and they had a good contest and it showed," Lugo said.
And while goals were hard to come by, bodies hitting the ground wasn't. No more was that apparent than with Bellingham's Hattie North.
North, who fittingly wears a padded black cap on her head, struck one of her teammates in a collision that left her laying on the ground for several minutes in the first half clutching her head. The sound of the two hitting was flush, and as she rived in pain, the coaching staff made its way over to her to help walk her off the field. Several minutes later, she was checking back in.
"She will never back down. ... She is a kid that has decided that, 'I am going to be as physical as anybody else, and nothing that is going to happen is going to keep me out of this game,'" Wright said.
North found herself again on the wrong side of a collision, promting Wright to ask her is she was OK to keep playing. The midfielder looked back at her coach, lifted both her arms and shrugged her shoulders. She wasn't going to come out.
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2238. For other Whatcom County sports update, follow on twitter @bhamsports.
FERNDALE 2, BELLINGHAM 1
Goal: Jordin Bartel (Ferndale), assist Jazzy Ahrens: time: 28:00; Goal: Mariah Miller (Bellingham), assist Mary Dyrland: time: 44:00; Goal: Jordin Bartel (Ferndale), assist Carly Bannerman: time: 83:00. Shots on goal: Bellingham 7; Ferndale 9. Goalies (saves) Bellingham: Hannah Jacobus (7); Ferndale: Linsey Honeycutt (5).