By Doug Chapin
The two sides had different reactions after Champion High grabbed a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into Wednesday’s girls soccer match that would decide the All-American Conference’s National Division title.
“I was yelling my little heart out, ‘It’s early and this game isn’t done,’” Champion coach Dan Houle said. “You’ve got to calm them down so much and sometimes you can’t do it. You’ve got to get it out of their heads that it’s all over, especially with Lakeview.”
“The girls were shell-shocked. They got panicked and it probably took about 10 or 15 minutes to calm themselves down,” Lakeview coach Shawn Varley said. His Bulldogs responded by outshooting the Flashes 19-0 the rest of the game for a 3-2 triumph.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been scored on like that and that quickly,” Varley continued. “Two goals right off the bat, it shocked us. But we showed some resilience in the second half. We kind of balanced out our attack instead of just hitting through balls in the middle.”
Lakeview finished 10-0 in AAC National play and 15-1 overall. Champion finished 8-2 in the division and 10-2-2 overall.
Champion junior Emilee Lipps scored her fifth goal of the season from about 20 yards out on the left side at the 33:42 mark of the first half. Her great cross set up senior Jo Thomas for her fourth goal of the year at the 30:41 mark.
Senior Ali Gagne got one goal back for the Bulldogs with 19:53 on the first-half clock. She secured the ball in front of the net after a teammate’s shot went off the crossbar and put it past Champion keeper Kelly Robinson who finished with six saves.
Less than five minutes into the second half (35:49) senior Justine Defrancesco scored for the sixth time this season, maneuvering into the open and drilling home a left-footed goal from the top of the area.
The home team could have clinched the division title with a tie, but the Bulldogs clearly wanted a third goal.
Junior defender Sierra Leveto did the honors with 10:30 remaining in the game, scoring her fourth goal of the season from 12 yards out following a scramble off a corner kick.
Lakeview had an 8-0 edge in corner kicks for the game. They were a dangerous set piece opportunity off the foot of Gagne, as were the half-dozen or so throw-ins into the net area by senior Rachael Herriman.
“This was a great way for our seniors to go out,” Varley said. “We’ve got some great senior leadership in Lindsey Clark, a captain this year who has been starting varsity for four years. So has Ali Gagne, starting since she was a freshman. So it was a great way for them to end their regular-season careers.”