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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Canterbury's Mackenzie Willhelm, left, fights for possession with Blackhawk Christian's Maria Arrington during the first half Saturday.

Sunday, October 07, 2018 1:00 am

Canterbury 2 Blackhawk Christian 1

Cavaliers capture unlikeliest of titles

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

 To call what the Canterbury girls soccer team did in the sectional a Cinderella story is probably underselling the magnitude of the accomplishment.

Canterbury managed just two goals and one win in 14 regular-season games, but dispatched Woodlan in the semifinals and followed that with a thrilling 2-1 victory over Blackhawk Christian on penalty kicks Saturday to capture the title in front of the Cavaliers' home fans.

While thunder crackled around her and a light rain fell, sophomore Sophie Terrell deposited the winning penalty kick in the lower left corner of the net, past a diving Lydia Stayton, to give Canterbury a 4-3 edge on penalties and send the Cavaliers to regionals.

Terrell hesitated for an instant to watch the shot hit home and then turned, arms stretched to wide, to meet the rest of the Cavaliers rushing at her for a raucous celebration.

“I was shocked, my heart was just racing,” Terrell said of the feeling after the kick. “It just felt really great. I just felt like it was my job, that I had to finish it.”

With her kick, the Cavaliers (3-13) completed their improbable run to the sectional title. It was a triumph for the team's chemistry and camaraderie, coach Jennie Crandal said.

“We all call each other sisters, and it's a sister bond that we have,” said Crandal, who joined in her team's celebratory dog pile on the field. “We laugh and joke about it, but it's so real for this group. The younger kids wanted this so badly for the seniors.

“It's just the positivity that everyone demonstrates to one another, the respect, that's what got us through today.”

For much of the second half, it seemed that the Cavaliers wouldn't need extra time to take the title. After a scoreless first half, Canterbury jumped in front just 1:32 into the second half, and it was one of the Cavaliers' young stars who gave them the lead.

Freshman AnnaBella Brown controlled the ball outside the penalty box, took one dribble and fired a laser over Stayton's head and into the top of the net to break the scoreless tie. It was a remarkable shot for a freshman and indicative of why Crandal is so excited for the young talent she has on her team.

“I'm so proud that she took the risk to take that shot,” the coach said. “As a freshman, just to pull the trigger and take it, that's huge. I knew we wouldn't be successful unless those younger freshmen could step up and do it and by the end of the year, we got it all together.”

For the next 32 minutes, the Cavaliers led. With less than eight minutes left, Blackhawk Christian coach Tim Kintz began imploring his team to pressure the ball and go all out for a tying tally. 

Less than two minutes later, the Braves (10-7-2) cleared the ball into the Canterbury end. Cavaliers senior Mackenzie Wilhelm had a chance to clear but was unable to do so, leaving goalkeeper Samantha Ko, who had a stellar game otherwise, out of position.

The Braves' Quinn Doden simply chipped the ball past the goalie for an easy score that sent the game to overtime. 

Despite that setback, however, the Cavaliers never wavered in the belief they would win.

“(After regulation) ended, everybody came around (Mac)kenzie and Samantha Ko,” Crandal said. “They said, 'It's OK, we got it, we got it.'”

And they did.

dsinn@jg.net