It was evident from the start Moline and United Township didn't want to share the conference title again.
The co-defending Western Big Six champions went back and forth all night before the Panthers scored two goals in five minutes to grab a 3-2 overtime win over the Maroons at the Moline Soccer Bowl.
"I think this is huge. I feel great, my team feels great," junior Ryleigh O'Brien said. "We're going into the Western Big Six with one win already ... that gives us confidence. Last year we tied it and this year I want it all."
O'Brien scored two goals in the match, including the game-winner in the 96th minute after Gabby Pauwels tied the match in the 91st minute.
Pauwels' goal was a big sign of the resiliency of the Panthers (2-3, 1-0), who went down 2-1 in the 87th minute when Karima Rangel got behind the UT defense. The goal caused a bit of confusion, as the play was initially ruled offside, only to be overturned and the goal allowed after a conference between the side judge and referee determined the ball originally came off a UT player.
"You see so many different interpretations of the laws today in youth soccer and professional soccer," UT coach Phil Weaver said. "That offside ruling is changed so many times and (Moline coach Rick Sanchez) is right, it came off our player which puts the player back onside which was the call but the official has to be on top of the rules because it does create frustration among the coaches when things like that happen."
Rangel had another goal called off earlier in the match due to an offsides and O'Brien countered a minute later to give UT a 1-0 lead. Allie Van knotted the game in the 72nd minute to send the game to overtime.
"I was proud of the way the girls came out today and were able to maintain that intensity level," Sanchez said. "Those are the things we have to continue to improve on and today they certainly showed a desire to compete and to win. That's what we need to take from this game."
Moline (1-4, 0-1) controlled most of the first half but couldn't beat UT keeper Hanna Mirimanian. The junior made nine of her 10 saves in the first half to keep the game scoreless, and give the Panthers the spark they needed to up their game in the second.
"I trusted my defense, I made sure I didn't come out too soon," Mirimanian said. "I let them do their job before I stepped in and I just knew what I had to do, I couldn't let anything in the back of the net. I played how I know to play and I stopped the goals."