Call it an extra-special effort by Juliana Costantini.
The West Mecklenburg, N.C., football kicker had been relegated to converting extra points, never so much as attempting a field goal in a high school game.
It all changed Friday when she booted a 31-yard field goal with 11 seconds left to give the Hawks a 23-21 victory against West Charlotte.
Earlier, Costantini had gone 2-for-3 on converting extra points, but her miss on a blocked attempt loomed big after West Charlotte drove to a go-ahead touchdown with 2:04 to play.
West Mecklenburg marched to the West Charlotte 5-yard line before a holding penalty pushed the Hawks back and left them with little choice but to kick on fourth down.
“This is my first game-winner actually ever,” Costantini told The Charlotte Observer. “I never even attempted a field goal – it’s always been extra points. It was really dramatic.”
It gave West Mecklenburg its first win in the series since 1987 and culminated an unlikely climb for Costantini, previously a successful soccer and rugby player.
She was talked into trying football in the spring of 2011. As she wrapped up her sophomore year, she auditioned as a kicker.
Costantini started 2011 on the junior varsity and joined the varsity for the final month of the season. She slowly proved herself to teammates and has split the uprights from as far out as 47 yards in practice.
“The first couple days I went out there, I was scared, to say the least,” Costantini told the paper. “I was terrified out of my mind."
Yet on game night, as coach Jeff Caldwell told the paper, Costantini was nothing but poised.
"We didn't have to go ask her, we didn't have to go looking for her," said Caldwell. "She said she could make it and I didn't look back."