After a long wait, the Shattuck-St. Mary's Girls Soccer program captured its first ever Minnesota Youth Soccer State Cup title Sunday when the U-18 team knocked of defending champions Centennial SC 3-1 in overtime. The win means the Sabres will move on to the Region II Champioships set for June 24-29 in Westfield, Indiana.
In the opening stages of the match, Centennial used the steady wind at its back to establish play in the Sabres end for long stretches and forced several corner kicks. In the 17th minute Shattuck was able to clear one of those corner kicks only as far as the top of the penalty area where Centennial player Savannah Smith had enough time to control the ball and precisely guide it into the top corner of the goal to give the defending champions a 1-0 lead.
True to their character all year, the Sabres did not let the goal deflate them and kept working hard to find their way into the game. As the half wore on, SSM began to gain more and more control of the game, pinning Centennial in their own end until halftime. Despite being denied a goal before the break by some good goalkeeping on the part of Caitlyn Bangert, the Sabres went into the break with a firm grip on the game.
They continued right where they left off to start the second half, piling more and more pressure on the Centennial goal. Thirteen minutes after the interval, Boston University commit Ann Marie Jaworski, fresh off a U-19 National Team camp in Chula Vista, CA, found Alaysia Lane with a pass at the top of the box. The Rutgers commit faked a turn outside to her right then quickly changed direction back to the inside where she unleased a left footed shot that froze the goalkeeper and nestled into the lower right corner of the goal to bring the Sabres level.
Even more energized, Shattuck kept pusing for the go ahead goal, but despite some excellent chances they could not find the breakthrough before the 90 minutes were up. The game then moved to overtime, which consisted of two 15 minute halves. In the 85 degree heat, energy levels were tested and it became clear that the fitness of the Sabres could prove to be the difference.
The first overtime saw Centennial with the wind advantage again, but the Sabres were able to keep them at bay while not creating any clear cut chances of their own. In the second overtime period, however, they wasted no time going for the win. With barely a minute of the second overtime played, Jaworski and Tierrny Wiltshire, another Rutgers commit, combined at the top of the box to elude the Centennial defense. Wiltshire gathered the return pass from Jaworski and unleashed a laser shot that proved too powerful for the goalkeeper to react and the Sabres had a precious one goal lead.
Many of the players had been here before last year in overtime with a 2-1 State Cup Final lead and that one slipped away. This time, they would make sure of it with an insurance goal four minutes before full time. Illinois State commit Mikayla Unger dribbled into the box before hitting a shot the Centennial goalkeeper was unable to hold firmly. Lane pounced on the short rebound and slotted the ball off the near post and into the goal to give Shattuck a commanding 3-1 lead that ultimately became the final scoreline.
The historic win was one that came about because of a total team effort according to Head Coach, Joe DeMay. "I'm not exaggerating when I say every single player on this roster made their contribution to this win. It's incredible how much the team has grown and how resilient they've been all year."
Indeed, the game was the 40th of the Sabre's season and only four of those games have been losses, with two coming in the very first games of the season. "Our backbone all year has been defending," said DeMay. "Yeah, we score a lot of goals and have some outstanding attacking players but our back four and goalkeepers have been incredible all year and to give up only 26 goal in 40 games with 22 shutouts requires a complete buy in from everyplayer front to back to commit to total team defending. I guess the old saying is true, defense wins championships."
After a short break, the Sabres will beging preparations for Regional play June 6th. The Regional Championship Schedule should be announced in early June.