The Hope team was undefeated. The only blemish on their record was an early season tie with St. Gregory's. ¬They finished their CYO soccer careers in style by bringing home the title.
The heavy rains of Friday and Saturday created poor playing conditions: wet, slippery and windy. But those heavy rains could not slow down the girl's march to the title. They would not be denied!
The team lost the opening coin toss and played the first half with the wind in their faces. St.Francis scored early with a deep kick that sailed in passed a screened goalie Kimberly Myers. Throughout the season, the Hope team never panicked when playing from behind. And so they were able to remain calm down 1-0 early.
The Hope team was quick to strike back. An open shot by Alexa Dietrich beat the DeSales goalie to tie the score at 1-1. St. Francis would strike again with a rolling shot that lingered in the penalty area long enough to find it's way in to the Hornet's goal.
But the persistent Hope team pushed harder into the wind and into the wet end of the field. Strong forward play by Mary Kate Columbia, Monica Monticello and Emily Rogawski kept pressure on the DeSales defense. Backed up by a strong midfield effort from Ashley Conte, Alexa Dietrich, Erin McClelland and Kayla Munnelly the team finally produced a second goal late in the first half. A long shot from Erin McClelland beyond 20 yards sailed over the outstretched arms of the DeSales goalie and splashed down into the net.
At the end of the first half, the teams had played even and the score remained tied 2-2. Coach Mike Roach of the Hornets was pleased with the first half effort into the wind and confident going into the second half with the wind at their backs. However, it wasn't as easy as it sounded.
The DeSales team was a tough opponent who was out to avenge last years loss to this same Hope team.
With the defense pushing forward lead by Tori Taibe, the Hornets kept pressure throughout the half, but goals were difficult to come by.
The defense was anchored throughout the season by Elizabeth Roach and Becky Verrone. Verrone arrived home earlier that morning to be sure to make the game and not let her teammates down. Rebecca Rich and Rebecca "S" Swiatkowski shared the right side duties for the defense and were valuable in keeping the DeSales offense at bay. "S" turned in her best performance of the season balancing the strong left side with a strong right side to keep DeSales shut out in the second half. Only one ball crossed through the goal area Kimberly Myers lost her footing on the wet field. Luckily for the Hornets, the ball also sailed passed the DeSales forward and out of bounds.
As has become expected, Myers turned in a terrific game and solid season for the Hope Hornets and provided the consistency and stability the team needed over the past two seasons.
Midway through the second half, Sarah Williamson provided a spark that got the Hornets rolling. Her hustle toward the net gave them the determination to push one more goal across. Angelica Kosinski provided valuable substitution minutes off of the bench.
On a free kick within scoring range, the team set up for a chance to score. With players moving in every direction, the DeSales team became a little disoriented. The free kick from Tori Taibe sailed across the penalty area to Emily Rogawski who shot hard and over the net. Rogawski led the team in scoring from the forward line throughout the season, but could not get one passed the goalie this time. With time running out, a comer kick was awarded Hope. Coach Roach brought in comer specialist Angelina Como who narrowly missed a scoring opportunity in the goal area. With time running out, it finally happened. With a triple push from Mary Kate Columbia, the ball rolled toward the DeSales Goal, while the goalie tried to play it, Monica Monticello gave it a touch to roll it over the goal line. The Hornets had taken a 3-2 lead and would never look back. Coach Roach shored up the defense, by bringing Erin McClelland and Emily Rogawaski back to protect the goal. No one would be able to penetrate the Defense of Roach, Verrone, McClelland, Rogawski, Taibe and Myers. Columbia, Dietrich, Monticello, Conte and Munnelly continued the offensive pressure.
When the whistle sounded, the score stood 3-2. The Hope Hornets had capped off a near perfect season with a Championship. Over their rivals, St. Francis DeSales always proved to be a worthy opponent and never made it easy for the Hope team to claim victory. When it was over, the Hope Hornets had captured their second straight Diocesan Championship.