Knight fall

After a rough end to their season, the Spartans find redemption in the district tournament, but fall just short of a championship.

Tyler Tran, Staff Reporter

Last Monday, the girls soccer team marched onto the playing field with a chip on their shoulder and a hunger for redemption. After a less than optimal season left them seeded last in the district tournament, the team sought to redeem itself through victory.

“We put the season behind us, we wiped the slate clean and we focused on districts,” junior Samantha Patton said.

The first team on their plate was fourth seed Fort Zumwalt North.

The Spartans had a thunderous half to start the game, tying together all the aspects of their game and executing them with great precision, fueled by their determination to prove themselves.

“Everyone had the ability on the team; we just had to work harder to win,” junior Rachel Schreyer said.

That extra effort that the team put in translated into greater physicality, heightened awareness and smarter gameplay. Passes connected smoothly, and the Spartans consistently managed to weave their way into enemy territory and attack their goal. With all these aspects clicking in unison, the team built a comfortable 2-0 lead in the first half, both goals off a cross to senior Jaclyn Zilch.

“I think we shocked some people, considering it was 2-0 at half, and I don’t think they were expecting us to come out and score as much as we did,” freshman Angel Ikeda said.

Coming into the second half, the team began to feel the Panthers push back and fought to hold on to the lead. For the first 20 minutes, the team struggled to regain their momentum, and Fort Zumwalt North managed to slip one by early in the half, a goal that only fueled the girls to play harder.

“We let one in, and we were like no, ‘We’re going to do this’,” junior Peyton Steiner said.

With five minutes left, senior Katie Wood scored, which locked up a 3-1 win for the Spartans.

“It’s fun ending seasons,” Schreyer said.

Next on the team’s plate was Fort Zumwalt South, who was seeded first and was 2-0 with the Spartans in the regular season.

For the Spartans, this game was personal.

“They had beaten us twice before, and it was bad. The senior night game was close, but I feel like they still thought that we couldn’t hang with them, and they thought they were so much better than us,” Schreyer said.

The Spartans came out fast and furious, with freshman Morgan Cervera dancing her way through South’s defense to put the ball into the back of the net. Soon after, freshman Mikayla Kennedy scored off a deflection from a previous shot on goal. At the end of the half, the girls confidently walked off the field with a 2-0 lead.

“We were handing it to them, like we were shoving it down their throats. It was awesome,” Ikeda said.

While the Spartans looked at the scoreboard and relished in the spoils of their performance, they could hear the frustration building across the field in South’s huddle.

“At halftime, you could hear their coach like screaming at them, because he was so mad,” Schreyer said.

In the second half, the Spartans were slow to start, and South capitalized on that scoring a goal early in the half. For the rest of the game the Spartans hung on, fending off attacks until the end, with South pulling their goalie into play on the last corner kick as a last ditch attempt to tie the game, but it was all for nought. Down went South, and the Spartans came out with a 2-1 victory with a ticket to the championship.

With the District title just within the team’s grasp, the only thing standing between them was Francis Howell North. For 80 minutes, both teams battled it out, exchanging attacks and fighting for control of the ball. The Spartans often found themselves in Knight territory but just could not manage to slip the ball into the goal.

“We went out there and stepped it up even more; I felt like we gave it more than we did in the South game, and we had so many more chances. We just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Ikeda said.

The game was eventually thrusted into double overtime with both teams remaining scoreless after regulation and one overtime. Then, the Knights connected a cross with an open player in the box, who buried it into the goal, giving North the championship.

Despite losing the championship, the girls were still happy with what they had accomplished in the tournament.

“By the end of districts we were really proud of ourselves, for beating Fort Zumwalt South and Fort Zumwalt North and stepping up our game,” Patton said.

As their season comes to a close and the seniors depart for college, the remaining members of the team look forward towards next year. Returning to the team will be junior Caitlyn Eddy, a future D-1 soccer player who has committed to the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. After a season ending diagnosis of post concussion syndrome stemming from several previous concussions, Eddy looks to rejoin the program and contribute to its success next year.

“The goal is to get a title on the wall,” Eddy said.