An incredible first season for Stephen Decatur head coach Maggie Berke came to an end Thursday night, as two late goals by Northern-Calvert spurred a 3-1 victory for the Patriots, handing the Seahawks their only loss of the season.
“It has been an incredible season; it has gone way past all my expectations,” Berke said about the year. “The girls played their hearts out and we truly became a family. It shows in all the tears in their eyes how much they wanted this, and none of them wanted this season to be over.”
With the game knotted at 1-1 heading into the final seven minutes of the match, the Patriots tacked on two unassisted finishes within two minutes of one another to seal up the win and send Northern into the regional finals.
Trailing after the first four minutes of the match, the Seahawks capitalized on the game-tying finish just 14 minutes later, as Lexie VanKirk connected with her sister, Payton VanKirk, on the back post for a chested ball into the back of the net.
“Basically, the girls just needed to play with every ounce of them and leave every ounce on the field,” Berke said about the play of the Seahawks following the game-tying goal. “Win or lose, you have to feel like you need to crawl off the field at the end of the game.”
The real story, though, lies in the defense for the Seahawks. Decatur goalkeeper Lexi Gausepohl may have given up three goals for the game, but her performance was still strong, making seven saves for the match, six of which followed the first goal given up in the match to keep the score even at one apiece.
Gausepohl can praise the backline placed in front of her, led by senior captain Ally Beck, which eliminated many opportunities by the explosive Northern offense.
“I thought we started off strong and pushed through the whole game,” Beck said about the defense’s play through the match. “It’s just tough because we worked so hard through the season, but this group of girls is so strong, and hopefully they can get it this year; I just wish I was here to help them.”
“The defense has been solid and strong the entire season; I have no complaints,” Berke said. “Ally is literally an animal; she just gets her foot on everything. They all work so well together and never panic; just a solid defense.”
The Seahawks have nothing to hang their heads about, putting together quite a season under first-year head coach Berke. Concluding the season with a 13-1-1 record, being named the Bayside Champions and advancing to the state playoff regional semifinals is a feat to savor.
“It was a great accomplishment,” Beck said. “In the past 11 years, Decatur has never won a Bayside Championship, and it was great to be a senior and come out as champs.”
“The amount of heart all these girls have; it’s what it’s all about.” Berke said. “It’s been amazing, the girls were great and it was an awesome first year.”