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The Tech High Titans girls’ soccer team earned that title Sat., Nov. 24 in a home game, 1-0, against the St. Bernard Crusaders.
This is the Titan’s first NCS championship win. That’s a pretty big honor for Technology High, especially given how hard fought the final match actually was. For much of the game the two teams locked themselves in a bitter stalemate, and if it weren’t for a breakaway in the final few minutes of the match then the game might have gone into overtime.
“It felt like it was a lot of back and forth. In the first half it seemed like we were in their end more, and then in the second it seemed like they were in ours,” Melissa Knoll, Titan coach, said. “A goal was going to happen from one team making a mistake. We just got lucky that they made one that we could capitalize on.”
The first half of the game opened with an aggressive Titan offense led by their forward, Aveen Dulai, which pushed the Crusaders back into their own territory and kept them there. Tempers flared when a Crusader defender crept up behind Dulai and knocked her upside the head, sending her sprawling face down into the muddy pitch.
The defender got a yellow card, and the Titans got a free penalty kick, taken by their midfielder, Kayli Worden. Worden lined up the shot and fired, but Crusader goalie Maddie Costa knocked it aside.
Momentum shifted after halftime. The Titans fell back into their own territory to weather the Crusader’s offensive.
One particular drive ended in a Crusader corner kick, which sent the ball up and into the air. The ball bounced over the outstretched fingers of Titan goalie Danielle Baker but stopped just short of the line. A scuffle broke out. Both teams leapt for the ball, but Baker was too fast. She wrapped it in her arms and pulled it away. A Crusader’s foot passed through the space Baker’s head had been a moment prior, finding nothing but open air.
“It’s been four years for us seniors,” Baker said. “We went from the bottom getting creamed in half of our games and now we’re here. It’s so exciting. I wouldn’t be here without the rest of the team. It doesn’t matter how I played, it’s how the team played. I’m really proud of them.”
That moment might have saved the game for the Titans, but it wouldn’t win it for them. Victory would take another drive, one led yet again by Titan forward, Aveen Dulai, in the final minutes of the match.
Dulai gained possession of the ball around midfield. She kicked off into a full charge that quickly outstripped the pursuing Crusaders. Two Crusader defenders sallied forth from the goal to meet her, but before they could contest, Dulai fired off a kick that sent the ball flying. The Crusader goalie dove. She managed to get a single hand onto the ball, but it wasn’t enough to stop it from rolling in.
“I’ve got to explain to my players that they left everything on the field,” Phillip Rouse, Crusader coach, said. “We were dominating that second half, but against that run...I told my keeper that there’s not many people that could save a quick shot like that.”
This championship match was the final game of the season for the Tech High Titans, and, for many of the seniors, it was also the last soccer match they will ever play in high school. Where the girls take themselves from here is up to them, but one thing’s for certain: the banner testifying their achievement will hang in the Technology High School halls for years to come.