Springfield Catholic and Timberland (Wentzville) met for the third consecutive year at Jefferson City’s Art Firley Soccer Park for the right to go to the Class 1 Final Four. Two years ago Catholic topped the Wolves and eventually made it to the state final. Last season Timberland rallied for a late goal to beat the Irish, which propelled them to a 3rd place finish in the final four.
So today’s rubber match — and final playoff meeting between the two schools as Timberland will be a Class 2 school next year — was everything you would expect. Timberland took the wind and dominated the first 10 minutes until sophomore forward and leading playmaker Abbie Albeitz (17 goals, 23 assists) went down with a knee injury on a seemingly harmless play in the corner. Albeitz would not return and it definitely had an impact on the match. From there, Catholic found its footing and the two teams went into the break even at 0-0, despite Timberland’s decided shot advantage of 6-1.
The second half saw Catholic become the aggressor early, but the Wolves held on behind the superb play of junior sweeper Jamie Buerhle. Catholic’s best opportunity came on an Tara Bailes turn and strike from the 18 that went straight at Timberland keeper Nicole Freise. Catholic forward Anne Delong provided most of the Irish’s attacks, but regulation ended with the score tied 0-0. The heat also played a heavy part as several players suffered from dehydration and exhaustion as the contest wore on.
Timberland took the wind in the first OT and it proved to be the right call. Six minutes in, junior forward and leading scorer Chelsey Johnston worked the right side and earned a corner kick. Catholic survived the initial attack, but couldn’t get the ball cleared from the box. Johnston was waiting at the top and drilled a 16 yarder into the near post right side past a diving Catholic keeper for the golden goal that set off a jubilant Timberland celebration in the goal box. Final — Timberland 1, Catholic 0. Game winner in the 87th minute.
The goal was Chelsey’s 24th of the season and as my correspondent noted, propels them to their second Final Four in a row. It will be nice to see them move into Class 2 next year, they have proven themselves to be a talented squad. The loss of Albietz, who scored two and assisted on the game winner in last year’s quarterfinal, could be significant at State. Let’s hope it’s something she can recover from.
Video of last year’s Quarterfinal match (19 MB, ~ 9:30 min) – video iPod downloadable version (soon)
For Springfield Catholic, the Fightin’ Irish once again represented Springfield Soccer at the highest levels. I’m going to call on Coach Timson to provide a season summary. How about it Coach?