On a Friday night so intensely cold the players went thirsty because water bottles froze, the Bradshaw Mountain and Prescott soccer ladies battled in a nailbiter to a 1-1 double overtime draw.
"What a great game," Bradshaw head coach John Sterling said. "I knew it was going to be a battle and it was - both teams came to play."
It was marginally warmer three nights earlier when the Lady Bears' match with visiting Page ended in a 0-0 double OT knot.
"Oh my! That was a fun game to be a part of," Sterling said of Tuesday's contest. "It's the way soccer is supposed to be."
Sterling said a lot of people might discount Page as a soccer power, but he knows better.
"Page has a really good team," Sterling said. "We had possession probably 60/40, maybe a little higher. The girls worked and worked for the best chances I've seen all year long, with great ball movement, we just couldn't get the ball in the net."
He said the hard-fought game - the Lady Bears' first in about three weeks, not including a holiday tournament where mostly junior varsity players participated - would help set them up for Friday's match-up at Prescott.
He was right; the Lady Bears gave normally dominant Prescott no quarter. Bradshaw held the lead Brianna Carroll gained midway through the second 40 minutes of play until less than five minutes remained in regulation.
"My girls lost their composure the last 10 minutes of the game, but they regained it and found the heart to dig deep and hold on and even threaten through two overtimes," Sterling said.
He described both teams as "pushing the envelope," with plenty of shot opportunities but without the ball entering either goal.
He said Bradshaw's senior 'keeper Delaney Prestia stopped 15 shots on goal.
"I believe it changes the future of soccer against them (Prescott). We won't be a pushover anymore," Sterling said of the AIA's No. 30-ranked Badgers (2-5-1).
"One to one is a world soccer (average score) and I'll take those games every day of the week," he added. "They didn't beat us this year; a draw is as good as a win in my book. You know how proud I am, I don't have to tell you that."
Sterling noted the team has struggled with holding a lead late in games at least five or six times this season.
"It's something we have to work on a specific strategy for," the coach said.
Still, he pulled up some impressive statistics to show the Lady Bears' improvement over the 2011-12 season.
With 10 games under their belts to start 2012, Bradshaw had scored only three times, with 29 goals against - an average of 2.9 goals against and 0.3 goals scored per game.
This season at the same point, the Lady Bears have scored 14 goals with 19 against, for an average 1.9 goals a game against while scoring 1.4 goals.
"Once they hit their stride they have had a great run of six games, with only one loss. That's big for the Bradshaw girls' soccer program," Sterling said.
"They have exceeded everyone's expectations this year and I hate to see it coming to an end soon. This has really been a dream season."
No. 31-ranked Bradshaw (3-5-2) was scheduled to play at No. 6-ranked Flagstaff (6-0) yesterday, after the Tribune's press time. They have one more regular season home game, on Jan. 24 against Sedona.