DELAND There would be no denying the Merritt Island girls soccer team.
Not this time.
Facing a penalty-kick round to decide the Class 3A championship against Jacksonville Stanton, the Mustangs got two saves from goalkeeper Jordan Tomberlin and a game-winning kick from Jordan Michaels on their way to a 1-0 (4-2 PKs) victory at Spec Martin Stadium.
“It’s amazing,” Tomberlin said. “The only way I could describe it is … you (take) every happy moment you’ve ever had combined into one. It’s over-the-charts amazing.”
It was the second title in school history for the Mustangs (22-0-1) and came in Merritt Island’s fourth straight trip to the final four. Merritt Island was the runner up in 2014 and lost in the semifinals each of the past two years.
It was a sweet moment of victory for the seniors as they watched Michaels drill her game-winning penalty kick high and to the right.
“Oh my gosh. All I wanted to do was hug Jordan and tackle her,” senior forward Keli Lindquist said. “It’s the best feeling ever.
“We worked so hard for it. We wanted it so bad.”
Stanton (16-6) proved to be quite an obstacle for the Mustangs.
The Blue Devils got a magnificent game in goal from senior Lauryn Harold, who came up big time and again.
Likewise, the Mustangs got a solid game from Tomberlin and defenders Madeline Miller, Michaels, Sydney Clarke and Stephanie Glass.
And just as they had all season, the Mustangs came through when it counted most.
“To have come here for a fourth straight year and walk away empty handed would have been devastating,” Mustangs coach Scott Carswell said. “I don’t think we played our ‘A’ game, but I thought we battled the whole game.
“We’ve been working on penalty kicks since December. The kids knew what to do, and they came in and did it. Jordan Tomberlin was outstanding and all the girls who shot for us … It was amazing they had the composure to step in and do that.”
Feeling the Mustangs were “in the zone,” Carswell didn’t say anything to them as they walked out to take the penalty kicks.
And while the players certainly looked relaxed as they came back on the field — Michaels was smiling and waving to a large contingent of Mustang fans — they definitely had a message for each other.
“We told each other how hard we worked to get here and that this was our moment and not to let it go,” Michaels said.
Lexy Denabrg was up first for Merritt Island and placed the ball into the left corner. After Stanton tied it up at 1-1, Miller scored to put the Mustangs up 2-1.
Then it was Tomberlin coming up big. The sophomore keeper, who said she watches a player’s hips and eyes to read body language, dove to her right to make a save.
Merritt Island missed a chance to go up 3-1, but Tomberlin got her second straight save when Stanton’s shooter seemed to telegraph where she was going.
“She actually looked to that side before she kicked it, so I figured she would be going there,” Tomberlin said.
From there, Clark put the Mustangs up, 3-1, and Michaels finished it off.
“It doesn’t even feel real,” Lundquist said. “It feels amazing.”
Saturday’s 3A boys state final
Spec Martin Stadium, DeLand
Merritt Island vs. Seabreeze, 10 a.m.