Sophie Crowther had never scored a penalty kick prior to Friday night, Oct. 27.
The New Westminster athlete was summoned to take the sixth-round shot for Trinity Western's women's soccer squad with a spot in the Canada West semifinals on her boot.
She said walking up to the ball was as nerve-wracking as ever, especially with hundreds of home-pitch supporters encouraging her.
"I just knew that I had to be as confident as possible and not let the goalie know that I was nervous. I just had to step up there and try and take it with as much confidence."
With one swift kick, Crowther put the ball up the middle and slightly right. The Calgary Dinos goalkeeper lunged a bit too far and watched the ball sail to the back of the net and Crowther let out a big scream of pure joy.
The 5'4" second-year midfielder scored the game-winning goal to give the Spartans the playoff victory — 1-1 (4-3 on penalties) — and advance to the final four.
That was in addition to an assist she tallied earlier in the match in helping first-year Laren Spiller pot the opening marker in the 25th minute.
But Calgary answered very quickly, scoring in the opening minute of the second half to tie it up at 1-1.
From there, Crowther told the Record there was an even greater sense of urgency once the clock ran out on regulation.
"I think, in the last 15, we were really unlucky not to get a couple chances. It's a playoff game. So the whole thing is just intense."
First team all-star
Long before kick-off on Friday, Crowther learned that she was named a Canada West women's soccer first team all-star.
Very fitting for the 2022 New Westminster Secondary grad as she led Trinity Western with seven goals and eight assists during the 2023 regular season, resulting in a 9-2-3 record for the sixth nationally-ranked Spartans.
"It's been awesome. I've just really had such good support from my coaches and my teammates, and I couldn't have done it without them," said Crowther of the achievement.
"Everything I've done this season, we can't score a goal without an assist, and you can't get an assist without a goal. And just everything leading up from the backline to the front, it's been a team effort."
Crowther has impressed coaches, scouts and executives with Canada West in her first two years.
In 2022, she was named the Canada West women's soccer rookie of the year, as well as a first-team all-rookie, after recording two goals and eight assists — ending second in the conference's leaderboards for the category while leading TWU.
The Surrey United alumna was also selected to the U SPORTS all-rookie team.
Crowther tallied 60 shots this past season in 16 games, including 37 shots on target and scoring three game-winning goals, placing her in the top five among Canada West in each category.
She was also part of the League1 BC-champion Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite squad in early August.
Crowther will now turn focus to the Canada West semifinals, hoping to turn the tide in the Spartans favour after losing the 2022 conference title match 2-1 to UBC.
TWU did qualify for the national championship tournament, but lost once more to UBC in the 5th/6th place game.
Crowther told the Record she's hungrier than ever for a couple of banners and believes her team's chemistry is unmatched.
"I think it's all about just getting our mindset right in the details; just preparing as best as we can. If we show up with the right mindset and ready to work, we can beat any team."
Crowther and the Spartans will learn their semifinal opponent today, Oct. 28, facing the winner of the Victoria/MacEwan match.