(Oct. 31, 2014) The top-seeded Stephen Decatur girls’ soccer team took shot after shot during Tuesday’s 3A South Section I semifinals against the No. 5 Northeast Eagles of Anne Arundel, and it was only a matter of time before the Lady Seahawks scored.
“We got a little cocky in the second half. We were pretty pumped up at halftime,” said Decatur Coach Maggie Berke. The game was scoreless at halftime. “They felt they played extremely well the first half so they kind of went out in the second half thinking we got this in the bag and the other team came out saying ‘we’re going to get this as well.’”
With about 24 minutes left in the game, Decatur senior captain Payton VanKirk crossed the ball in front of the Northeast goal. Junior Peyton Townsend’s shot deflected off the Eagles’ goalie and senior captain Jillian Petito put the ball in the back of the net.
“We needed that. I think we were getting frustrated with all the shots we were taking and they just didn’t go in or we kept missing,” Berke said. “I think the frustration levels were high so getting that first one in was a big push.”
At the 5:08 mark, junior Alexis McDonough’s corner kick went near post and as VanKirk was being pushed down from behind, she managed to make contact with the ball, using her hip to put it in the goal. On the ground with her back to the goal, VanKirk didn’t know the ball had gone in until she turned around, saw it in the net and her teammates lifted her up to celebrate.
“I didn’t think it went in the goal, honestly. When everyone was cheering and saying ‘goal’ I got so excited,” she said. “It was a really awesome feeling, especially to get that security goal.”
“Once they got that second goal they were on fire and ready to keep going,” Berke said.
With 3:33 on the clock, Petito, heavily defended, passed the ball back to McDonough, who sent it into the upper 90 left corner of the goal to boost Decatur’s advantage, 3-0.
Decatur junior goalie Lexi Gausepohl came up with several big saves. She stopped 12 Eagles’ shots.
“I think they played well. They played hard and they all gave everything they had,” Berke said.
“We worked so hard the entire game and I felt like we had the possession, we had the energy and hustle…everyone kept such a positive attitude that we knew we could do it,” VanKirk said. “We’re really excited to move on in the state competition.”
Decatur was scheduled to play No. 3 Northern of Calvert County, yesterday, Oct. 30, in the 3A South Section I finals. The winner will face the Section II winner, Tuesday, Nov. 4.