Assumption avenged an earlier loss to Male this season as the Rockets redeemed themselves in a 3-0 victory over the Bulldogs Thursday on Collegiate’s field to win the 26th District championship.
Seniors Mel Pickren, Taylor Hubbs and Ellie Coke all came up huge for Assumption.
The game was scoreless for 33 minutes when Pickren perfectly placed a corner kick for McKenzie Riggs. Riggs headed it in for the first goal of the game. Less than two minutes later, Pickren did it again, setting up Addison Cline, who also scored on a header for a 2-0 lead that the Rockets took into halftime.
“We haven’t been getting on the back post and I’ve been getting on my teammates about that, but we really worked on it and I had to make those services into the right spot,” Pickren said. “We took that into halftime and knew we weren’t going to let them get behind us in the second half.”
Head coach Kenyon Meyer, whose team improved to 14-5-3, wasn’t surprised that Pickren gave the Rockets liftoff with two great assists.
“We practice set pieces a lot, and Mel’s our leading assist person on the team,” he said. “She did what she’s been doing all year, putting two perfect balls in there for McKenzie and Addison.”
Of course, before the Rockets could get up a goal, goalie Ellie Coke had to face the dreaded long strike of Male’s Abby McGimsey, who scored all three goals in Male’s win over Assumption earlier this year, all from at least 25 yards away. Sure enough, McGimsey lined up a free kick early in the second half from a good 25 yards away. And it came in hot and on target, as Coke pushed it up and off the top goalpost.
“That freaked me out,” conceded Coke, who finished with seven saves. “I just stayed on my line the entire time. Once I jumped up and stopped it I felt a lot more confident the rest of the game.”
“Ellie has spent a lot of time working on that,” said Meyer. “I thought she had it covered and she did. It was a great shot.”
One more senior was waiting for redemption, and it came with five minutes left in the game. Taylor Hubbs, out six weeks with an injury and cleared to practice only the day before, hit one in off a throw-in by Abby Spalding to score the game’s final goal.
“It’s the most exciting thing ever, not only to score but in your first game back,” Hubbs said. “I was like, ‘I’m this close’, so I nailed it and it went into the back of the net.”
Male coach Christian Lauria, whose team fell to 14-6, credited Assumption with a fine effort but was disappointed in his team’s performance.
“We didn’t play well,” he said. “They got two big corners. They were big in the air. We knew they are strong in the air and you have to challenge every 50/50 ball. We got deflated after the second one. It’s hard for this team to come back from two goals, let alone one.”