What if . . . Gar-Field had had five more minutes?

A sluggish opening to the second half landed the Gar-Field girls' soccer team in serious trouble Tuesday night. Visiting Mills Godwin scored on its first two shots of the half to take a two-goal lead, and the Indians seemed stunned as their previously fluid attack stagnated.

But Gar-Field recovered, pushing everyone forward on offense and creating several promising chances before ultimately coming up short in a 3-2 loss.

Gar-Field senior forward Samantha Chendorain scored with about eight minutes left, and the goal clearly reenergized a team that hadn't made a single second-half substitution.

"You could see their 11 on the field, and their bench really got back in the game," said Mills Godwin Coach Rob White, whose team improved to 13-6-2. "I was nervous at that point."

Indeed, the Northwestern Region champion Indians, who finished the season at 12-6-2, repeatedly sent the ball whizzing in front of the Mills Godwin net as time ticked away.

Sophomore Kendall Irby -- an elusive threat all night -- sent a header just wide of the goal with four minutes left, and Chendorain had the ball deep in the Mills Godwin zone seconds before time ran out.

"After that [second] goal, I thought the momentum was going our way," Gar-Field Coach Michelle McDonald said. "We ran out of time, basically."

The Indians also had near misses in the first half, none more galling than the free kick Nathalie Bolder launched moments before halftime. Mills Godwin's keeper tipped Bolder's 35-yard drive into the crossbar and then over the goal, leaving the score tied, 1-1, at halftime.

But after the final whistle, those last frantic moments were fresh in the minds of the Indians, who had a 17-12 advantage in shots.

"I felt like it was a comeback; I thought we were going to score another one," said Irby, who tallied the first Gar-Field goal and assisted on the second. "Just a couple more minutes, and we would have gotten one in."

-- DAN STEINBERG