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The Vandebilt girls’ soccer team has finished as the Division II state runners-up for two-straight seasons – a disappointing result for a program that has grown accustomed to winning state championships.
One game now determines whether the team’s third shot at gold will be the charm.
Thanks to an offensive barrage that included five goals in a 50 minute span, No. 1 Vandebilt pounded No. 4 Lakeshore 6-2 Friday night in the state semifinals match played at Buddy Marcello Stadium.
The victory pushed the team back into the state finals where they will take on fellow state power No. 2 Teurlings Catholic at 5 p.m. in Tad Gormley Stadium.
“We just played our hearts out,” senior Marcie St. Germaine said. “This is one of the best games we’ve ever played. It was worth it. This was a big victory.”
“It was just an amazing game,” senior Meghan Philp said. “We just showed a lot of heart and character on that field tonight. This is a tremendous accomplishment.”
Vandebilt’s blowout win looked to be on thin ice in the match’s early minutes.
Lakeshore came out of the gates smoking, scoring first in the ninth minute on a run-out goal from Haylee Atwell.
Prior to taking the 1-0 lead, the Lady Titans also had an apparent goal taken away by match officials on an offsides call.
“It was kind of an eye-opener,” Philp said of the team’s early deficit. “It was a reminder that anything can happen.”
“We talk in every game and especially in the playoffs that you have to overcome some adversity,” Vandebilt coach Philip Amedee said. “When you’re playing good teams, they are going to score and they are going to do good things. The challenge of a champion is to come back strong and work through adversity.”
It’s safe to say the Lady Terriers did just that.
Immediately after allowing the goal, Vandebilt took control of the match.
The Lady Terriers had countless cracks at an equalizer, but finally leveled the score midway through the opening half on a goal by Philp.
Whitney Champagne added another on a ball perfectly popped over the Lakeshore keeper’s head and into the back of the net to give Vandebilt both momentum and a 2-1 halftime lead.
With that momentum, the Lady Terriers never looked back, scoring four second-half goals, including one by St. Germaine and two by Makella Pena.
Lady Terriers’ striker Julia Callejas also got into the act during the scoring barrage.
“For us, when we get one, we’re ready to score some more,” St. Germaine said. “We had that in mind and we really got it done.”
Amedee agreed and said that having five players score goals in a state semifinals match is a testament to his team’s offensive depth – what he believes is the strength of the Lady Terriers.
“We’ve been having a bunch of girls scoring goals really all year long,” Amedee said. “Of course, we have our regular goal scorers just like anyone else, but that [depth] is really where our success comes from. We have a lot of girls who are capable of putting the ball in the back of the net.
“When our girls see a little blood or smell a little blood in the water, they really circle around and try and finish off the opponent.”
There’s now just one opponent left to “finish off.”
The Lady Terriers’ opponent in the state finals is someone they are eerily familiar with as Teurlings beat Vandebilt in the championship match last year by a 2-1 margin.
One year prior to that match, it was the Lady Terriers earning the upper hand in the rivalry, defeating Teurlings in the state semifinals.
The teams also met in late December in a contest that ended a 1-1 draw.
This time, there will not be a tie – someone will walk away a state champion.
After two-straight years of heartbreak, the Lady Terriers believe there is their year to be the last team standing in the end.
“We have one more to go,” St. Germaine said. “And we plan on winning it this year.”
“We have to just come out here and give coach one last strong week of practice,” Philp said. “And then once Friday comes, we have to just do our best and leave everything on the field. If we do that, we’ll be OK.
“We’re hungry. Very hungry. We’re ready to hopefully win it this time.”
Elsewhere in the Tri-parishes
While the Vandebilt girls’ moved into the state finals Friday, the E.D. White boys suffered a heartbreaking home defeat.
In a thrilling, back and forth slugfest, No. 2 Ben Franklin landed the final blow, eliminating the Cardinals from the playoffs in a 3-2 overtime semifinals battle.
The loss ends the Cardinals season with a 24-3-1 record.
Things looked good for E.D. White for a lot of Friday’s match.
After swapping first-half goals, the Cardinals took a 2-1 advantage in the second half on a goal from Derek Knight.
That lead held up until the match’s 70th minute when Ben Franklin’s Aalian Rahman nailed the equalizer that sent the match to overtime.
Once in extra time, Rahman was again the Cardinals’ nemesis, scoring the game-winner to seal the win.
Last second, victory clinching goals were apparently the story of the week for local boys’ soccer.
Just days prior to E.D. White’s tough loss, No. 9 Vandebilt fell in a similar fashion in the state quarterfinals.
Hosting No. 1 St. Louis, the Terriers and Saints fought to a scoreless first half draw.
Vandebilt fired the first shots in the final half and took a 1-0 lead with just more than 30 minutes to go on a put-back goal from Mitchell Blanchard off a shot from Andrew Teuton.
After St. Louis tied the match minutes later, the teams appeared headed toward overtime.
But Saints’ midfielder Alex Kjellsten had other ideas, scoring on a corner kick with less than three minutes to go in regulation.
The loss ended the Vandebilt boys’ season at the hands of St. Louis for the third-straight season.
Vandebilt soccer player Meghan Philp makes a move during
Friday’s state semifinals match.