YORKTOWN — Sarah Bade and Ashleigh Williamson wasted no time celebrating.
As the clock hit zero in Yorktown’s 3-1 championship win over Jay County in the Yorktown girls soccer sectional, the pair flung their arms around each other and hugged tight, spinning around in a circle.
It was sweet redemption after being eliminated in the same game last year, by the same team, Jay County.
And one to remember for Tigers coach Tim Ashton, in his first year of coaching the team.
“I wasn’t here last season, but I’ve heard enough from these girls, I think it’s pretty cool,” Ashton said.
Yorktown only needed a few minutes to open the scoring, with Jaylynn Chavez directing the ball into the net from just a couple yards out to put her team in front.
The Tigers continued putting pressure on, but Jay County goalie Lilly Rogers stymied attack after attack, keeping her team in position for an equalizer. It came after a shot hit Yorktown goalie Tyrah Bell in the hands and she was unable to corral it.
Before Bell could recover, Mariah Bailey swooped in and knocked the ball into the net, tying the game for Jay County. The Jay County offense was stagnant up to that point, but the goal provided an opportunity for a momentum swing.
The goal could have taken the air out of the Yorktown team after such an uplifting start, but Ashton’s team was prepared for an aggressive Jay County offense.
“I talked to (my players) before the game and told them that (Jay County) is going to be able to score,” Ashton said. “We just have to drive the ball to the net, get started and keeping doing what we need to.”
Tigers forward Hannah Rapp listened to the message and responded. With just seconds left in the half, she outran the Patriots defense and flicked the ball into the net just before Rogers could block it, giving her Tigers a 2-1 halftime lead.
Trying to put the game on ice, Yorktown’s Katie Nixon hit the post early in the second half, unable to extend the lead. Soon after, Lizzie Smith swung a shot off a free kick from 20 yards away just over Rogers’ head, giving her team an insurance goal.
“It felt amazing. At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t hitting all of those free kicks,” Smith said. “At the last Jay County game, I hit one of those, so I’m really excited to have been able to contribute to the win.”
Yorktown’s defense was tested, but besides the lone goal in the first half, remained unbroken. Bell finished the game with nine saves, the final line of a defense that swarmed Jay County’s forwards whenever they started to approach the box.
Gabbie Mann scored three goals in Jay County’s sectional semifinal win but was blanked in the championship. She had her chances and attacked recklessly, but usually found a Yorktown defender between her and the goalie.
“Nobody had to defend alone, that was the key,” Ashton said.
Contact prep sports reporter David Polaski at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidPolaskiTSP