Lamparty’s hat trick fuels South Range’s district title victory
NILES — A district title will always suffice, but consecutive crowns are twice as nice.
For South Range, Thursday evening’s Division III district title showdown versus rival Crestview represented a new challenge, as a young Rebels team with plenty of offensive firepower wasn’t going to let their season come to a conclusion without fighting.
Just because the Raiders were the top-seed and Crestview was seeded ninth didn’t mean anything once the match kicked off.
After the dust settled, there was one soccer player who reacted with the most energy.
Dribbling down the field and shooting from just inside the 20-yard line on the football field, South Range junior Gabby Lamparty back-pedaled and watched after unleashing a deep shot.
As the time kept ticking down on the clock at Bo Rein Stadium in Niles, Lamparty kept watching, then as the ball crossed the net, let out a sea of fist pumps and jubilation.
Almost like it was frozen in time, the clock stayed at 11:08 when the celebration began and South Range had found a way to overcome adversity and defeat Crestview for a 5-4 sudden death overtime victory.
“I wasn’t expecting that last one to go in, but they’re an incredible team, and I’m super proud of my teammates,” Lamparty said with nothing but smiles. “I was shocked honestly (on the last goal), I was watching it, and then it went in, and I was so excited.”
Leading at halftime 2-1, thanks in part to a pair of first half goals off the leg of sophomore Devin Sauerwein, the Raiders kept control of the match throughout most of the first half and went up by as much as two goals when Lamparty converted a free kick from 20-plus yards out with 30 minutes left to play.
The Rebels found life midway through the second half, when senior Maci Shaffer, one of the top goal scorers in the state this season, cut through a pair of Raider defenders to score. Sophomore Bailey Wonner scored the Crestview equalizer less than a minute later.
Fighting through the defense again, Shaffer showed she’s one of the more highly regarded players in the area by scoring once more to give Crestview their first lead of the night with 7:24 left to play.
For South Range coach Kelsey Malenic and her team, it was the first time in awhile that the Raiders found their backs against the wall, but it was about keeping composure with younger players off the bench.
“I told them, just calm down, we were ahead, we had some injuries in different things going on, on the sidelines,” Malenic said. “We had to sub people in on the fly, we had people playing in really weird positions, ones they never played in before, but they went in, they did their job, and we were able to get our girls healthy and back in the game.”
With just 4:29 left on the clock, Lamparty fired off another shot from over 20 yards out right into the upper 90 degrees of the net to knot the contest up at four goals a piece.
“I was just confident in my teammates, and I knew they were going to find me, and I let it go, and it went in, it was an unbelievable feeling,” Lamparty said about the game tying score. “I just wanted it so bad, I was fighting through it, just fighting for my teammates and my seniors.”
Keeping everyone grouped as one was key heading into any tense game, as Sauerwein talked about following her two goal performance.
“We did get a little worked up sometimes, but we all had to come together, and that’s what’s really important,” Sauerwein said. “Just to definitely think positive, and work together, because, without that, we probably wouldn’t have won.”
Ending their season with a mark of 13-8, Crestview graduates five seniors, but with a sophmore heavy roster, it’s the playoff experience that’s going to have a lasting impact within the Rebels program, especially considering that several of the Crestview players either just started playing soccer last fall or this year.
“Winning is contagious, but even just having that mentality, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s ultimately about,” Rebels coach Barry Kimpel said. “Developing the characteristics that you can just stick with, and get stuck in, in difficult games against solid competition, I’m extremely complimentary to the South Range squad, but ultimately at the end of the day, as the coach of Crestview, I’m just happy to see what we did tonight, and where we might be able to take this going forward.
Besides captain Maci Shaffer, the Rebels will also graduate Emily Hill, Ellie Derringer, Araya Shaffer, and Sophia Carr.
“(The seniors) are a lot of just hustle players, girls that willing to go there and are willing to play for 80 plus minutes and just put everything out on the line, especially as far as leadership characteristics go, they were definitely able to pull the team forward, especially in tough difficult games like tonight.”
The Raiders have now won the district title in 2018, 2020, and 2021, with their eyes set on Doylestown Chippewa, who upset top seed Akron Manchester 1-0 to come out on top in their bracket.
The regional semifinal will be next Tuesday at a site to be named later.