The Golden Valley High soccer crowd drew an audible intake of breath as Marissa Rouse let her shot fly in the 78th minute.
In one of its few second-half defensive gaffs on Wednesday afternoon, the Cougar defense failed to close Rouse out as an attempted clearance rolled right to her.
The senior's right-footed blast looked destined for the top of the net, but as she had been all afternoon, goalkeeper Mariah Hermosillo was up to the task.
The first-year keeper leaped and got just enough to punch the ball over the crossbar. It was one of 10 saves for Hermosillo as she preserved Golden Valley's 1-0 victory over Pitman time and again.
The win moved the Cougars (10-5-2, 6-3 Central California Conference) back atop the league standings after being knocked out of first for the first time all season on Monday.
"It was weird, because I was kind of out of it all day," Hermosillo said. "I didn't really want to be at school. Coach gave us this speech about first place being on the line, and it really pumped me up. I was ready as soon as I stepped on the field."
She needed to be, particularly in the first half.
Things started really well for Golden Valley. The Cougars looked like they might run Pitman (9-5-2, 5-2-2 CCC) right out of Veterans Stadium in the first 10 minutes, slicing up and confusing the Pride defense.
The only thing missing were the goals.
The lack of scoring allowed Pitman to regroup, and once it did, the Cougars were put back on their heels.
Using a text-book one-touch passing game, the Pride began carving up the GV defense.
The only thing that held them at bay was Hermosillo. The senior made seven saves in the first half, none bigger than a reaction save on a Katlyn Hanf semi break.
GV broke the deadlock two minutes before the half, completely against the run of play.
An innocent-looking flick from Alondra Flores caught the Pitman defense flat-footed and sprung striker Sara Callister down the right wing.
The senior accelerated past the Pitman defense and calmly fired for the far post to put the Cougars up 1-0 at intermission.
Golden Valley had multiple opportunities to put the game away in the second half, but came up empty.
Callister had one break away saved by Karly Reid (seven saves) and another put just wide. The Cougars shot one over the crossbar of an empty net and Alex Eber struck the woodwork.
The inability to expand the lead made for some nervy final minutes, but in the end, the day belonged to Hermosillo.
"I feel like she's done really well the entire season," Golden Valley coach Lee Shaw said. "She had to contend with lots of corners and free kicks, and she just did great with all of it.
"First-year keeper or not, I think she's the best in the league."