Just one player stood between Payton's quest to return to the city semifinals. Time and again, the Grizzlies attacked Curie only to be stopped by Condors' stalwart keeper Eribertha Gomez.
Payton dominated the game, but had little to show for it.
"We were very frustrated and we knew that we just had to push through," junior midfielder Grace Hildebrand said.
She took her own advice to settle the matter.
Hildebrand drilled a ball just outside the box in the 74th minute that finally solved Gomez en route to a 1-0 quarterfinal victory in the Public League tournament Saturday at Lane.
Payton (9-4-2) advances to the semifinal round against defending champion and top-seed Lane on Tuesday.
The Grizzlies are undefeated (6-0-1) since their 5-3 loss to the Indians on April 9. Six starters, including top seniors Jaclyn Shifrin and Ellie Vachuska, missed the game because of their participation in a 10-day international exchange program in Prague, Czech Republic.
Hildebrand scored her seventh goal of the year. Junior Sophie Goethals played the through ball that found Hildebrand in open space on the right wing as she uncorked the game-winner. It was as much relief as satisfaction.
"I think when we are stressed out by the score, we get a little riled up and then we settle down," Shifrin said. "Grace was able to get the ball into the back of the net, and right after that goal, everybody really picked themselves up."
Gomez recorded nine saves for the Condors (6-8-3) that helped nullify the Grizzlies' advantages in time of possession and shots on goal. Gomez made two excellent diving stops of Shifrin, who also watched a left-footed ball just inside the box miss wide by inches.
The goal was the result of the persistence of effort.
"I think we needed the momentum," Vachuska said. "As soon as we have misses and keep missing them, we start to disintegrate."
Payton reached the final last year against Lane. The Grizzlies rode the momentum to capture its first sectional in qualifying for the Class 2A supersectional.
"Last year we had incredible senior leadership, with players like Veronika Nowak," Payton coach Ante Cop said. "This team is very different. It's been a bit rocky, a more stop and start season, but the girls are finaly coming into their own and they have showed their mettle.
"Like last year, I hope we turn it up at the right time."