It wasn’t that difficult to find the tallest player in the celebration circle and it was even easier to find her in front of the net.
Shannon Costello found the perfect position and was able to score the lone goal and lead fourth-seeded Gilbert Campo Verde to a 1-0 victory over No. 3 Cottonwood Mingus in the Division III championship match on its home field to win the school’s first-ever state championship in any sport.
“I’m just the person that scored it,” said Costello, one of the taller players on the team and a strong offensive presence with 11 goals this season.
“It’s a whole team thing, and we worked this whole season, and I just ended up finishing it, but it was really a team goal. In our practice (Thursday), we hit everything, and practice makes perfect.”
Costello’s goal ended Mingus goalkeeper Shelby Hughes’ shutout streak at 143 minutes — a span that started at the beginning of the playoffs.
The goal came in the 23rd minute off a free kick by Sebrina Rodriguez into the crowd in front of the goal off a set play, and Costello’s touch got the score.
“I believe that came from the side and hit off of Hughes’ hand,” said Costello on the goal. “Then (the ball) hit off Breanna Olsen and hit off the keeper again and I volleyed it in over the keeper. We dominate on set plays and knew that we had to capitalize off everything.”
Even wearing the road jerseys as the lower-seeded team, Campo Verde had the support of the home crowd as it controlled the tempo and a younger Mingus team.
“It’s so surreal right now, and we definitely had our school community behind us,” Campo Verde coach Rosie Headley said. “That was evident. They worked for this and (the school’s first championship) wasn’t talked about until about three weeks ago.
“The realism hit us, and the girls thought, ‘All right, let’s make history.’”
Mingus, who played in its third trip to the state championship in the past five years, had no answer for the momentum that was on Campo Verde’s side.
Their best opportunity came in the second half as they were able to solve the Campo Verde defense when Delaney Scanlan was able to break down the wing, but was unable to get a shot off.
All season, Campo Verde allowed only nine goals.
“My defense is really great,” said Campo Verde goalkeeper Britney Cantino, who faced only three shots all game.
“I couldn’t do it without them or my forwards. I just wanted to sit down and cry (after Costello’s goal). The best thing in my whole life.”