LA PORTE CITY — Often times, you’ll hear that a sport is a game of inches.

But for Tuesday’s girls’ soccer match between Waterloo Columbus and Union Community, a smaller unit of measurement may have been needed.

Twenty-nine seconds into the second overtime, Olivia Fain ripped a shot that bounced off the crossbar and got just deep enough into the goal to count, helping Class 1A’s No. 4 Columbus escape with a 3-2 win over Class 2A’s sixth-ranked Union.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Fain would be credited for the goal, as the Knights attempted to bat the ball back into play before the officials could make a ruling.

But after briefly conferring, it was decided that the goal counted, sending the Sailors into celebration mode and providing relief for the player who’d fired the deciding shot.

“I was trying to be confident (that the shot would count) because I wanted it to go our way and it did,” Fain said. “Union’s always a really good team and it’s always fun to beat them.”

Columbus’ Bella Fain and Union’s Lexi Wagner exchanged goals within 20 seconds of each other in the 31st minute, before Ana Ortiz gave the Sailors a 2-1 lead, taking advantage of a Union defensive breakdown just 31.6 seconds before halftime.

The Knights were able to force overtime thanks to a great individual effort by Courtney Powell in the 48th minute. Powell sped past two defenders then rocketed a shot just between goalie Sydney Schultz and the right post.

But other than that play, the Columbus defense was mostly able to neutralize Powell, who is second in the state with 38 goals.

“She’s definitely a weapon for them,” Sailors coach Julie Girsch said. “We definitely put pressure on her when she got the ball. We had a little bit of a safety net with (defender) Kate Shannon, who sat a little bit further back to pick up anything that got through and I think that helped.”

The 9-4 Sailors improve to 3-0 in the North Iowa Cedar League. Union falls to 8-2, with both its losses coming in conference.

Tuesday was a decided change of pace for the Knights, who’d won their previous four games by the combined score of 37-0.

Though wishing for a different outcome, Coach Hunter Zempel was happy to see his players go up against a higher quality opponent, something they’ll have to get used to if they hope to make noise in the postseason.

“I was looking forward to seeing how the girls would respond,” he said. “The overall performance I’m happy with. The end result didn’t go our way but I thought they competed, so I’m happy with that.”

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