Gabriella Coleman was shaking. And probably for good reason.
Oklahoma State beat Notre Dame 2-1 in extra time on Sunday. With approximately 20 minutes remaining in regulation, though, it looked like the Fighting Irish would be the ones to come out on top.
With the score tied, Notre Dame had a free kick right outside the OSU goalie box. Late in the game, a goal for either side would have been huge.
The Fighting Irish played the ball close to the goal where it ricocheted around dangerously before finding the left foot of a player in blue.
Sophomore forward Kati Druzina hit a rocket headed for the corner of the goal, but senior goalkeeper Emily Plotz dove to make the stop.
“Props to her for saving that last shot Notre Dame had,” senior forward Gabriella Coleman said. “I was getting nervous. I saw that and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this game’s about to end.’ When she hit it out I said, ‘Thank the Lord.’”
That was one of a few great saves Plotz made on the day. She returned to her spot in goal after missing the last couple games with an injury and red card combination and her impact was felt on a few separate occasions.
“I can think of two just in the second half alone where she had to make huge plays,” coach Colin Carmichael said. “That’s not counting the first half.”
One moment where Plotz averted disaster for the Cowgirls was more of a product of misfortune than poor play.
In the 16th minute, freshman defender Kionna Simon headed away a cross sent in towards the goal. The ball glanced off her head and bounded straight for the top of the goal.
Emily Plotz was there, and popped it over the net and out of harm's way.
“It just happened to come off her head like that and it was super unlucky,” sophomore forward Olyvia Dowell said. “Very good job to be paying attention and turning on in that moment because it could have easily gone in.
When Carmichael saw the ball's destination, he said his heart leaped up in his chest.
“It could have gone anywhere and it happened to be right above Emily’s head at the crossbar,” Carmichael said. “She deserves immense credit form getting underneath that ball.”
Although she gave up a goal on a perfectly placed Notre Dame free kick, Plotz’s return to the field was an impressive one.
The decision to start Plotz came after Carmichael observed her earn that right with solid play.
“The decision was made yesterday,” Carmichael said. “You have to be sharp, we have to be confident in you to play 90 minutes. She played well this week. She worked hard and we felt like she brought some things to the table that the others don’t.”
Plotz seemed to have put her foot injury behind her, and the decision paid off.
“She played well,” Dowell said. “She has a lot of experience. Sometimes that’s the difference between starting and not starting. She had some really, really good saves.”