Archbishop Wood edged Little Flower High School, 3-2, in the Catholic League girls soccer championship on Nov. 3.
But, judging from the crowd, you’d never have known.
The Sentinels’ school spirit was flourishing as diehard Little Flower fans flocked to Archbishop Ryan High School’s George Todt Field for the big game. Even when it had ended and Little Flower’s hopes of championship glory were doused, the fans cheered on.
“I think our entire student body is here right now,” said Sentinels midfielder Ursula Coyle, as Little Flower’s school song echoed behind her. “They made signs for us at school and we were just so excited. I didn’t think that everyone would come like this. Everyone is so proud of us.
“I think that my team played amazing,” she continued. “I honestly think Wood came in thinking this was going to be an easy victory for them. We gave them our best. We played our all. I couldn’t be more proud of these girls. We have nothing to regret. We did the best we could.”
Little Flower’s soccer team struck first in last week’s Catholic League finals, thanks to a flawless header from Coyle. The Vikings answered less than six minutes later, tying the score, and then pulled ahead, 2-1, with 10 minutes left in the half.
Archbishop Wood kept the momentum, scoring its third and final goal within the first four minutes of the second half. In the 68th minute, Coyle attacked again, closing Wood’s lead to one goal.
“It’s just the greatest feeling scoring those goals,” said Coyle. “All night, the energy, the excitement … it’s hard to explain. You could tell we all wanted it, and when I got those goals in, it lifted our spirits. We came back and we almost tied the game.”
Neither team scored again. The win gave Archbishop Wood its third consecutive Catholic League soccer title and increased its overall record this season to 19-2.
Carly Hoelsworth, Jackie Pierson and Kelsey Celline scored the Vikings’ goals. Wood’s goalkeeper Deanna Messner had four saves.
“I think we played well. We had a couple tough breaks,” said Little Flower head coach Markos Pittaoulis. “Wood has a strong team. You got to give it to them — they have a good team. They have some strong strikers.”
The loss ended the season for the Sentinels, who finished 10-3-1 overall. They had five shutouts on the season and outscored opponents by 24 goals.
“I don’t think anyone thought we would get here,” said Coyle. “We improved so much from the beginning until the end. We had the heart. We wanted it and we got here. That’s all you can ask for. We played our hardest.”
Coyle has been a workhorse for her squad this season, netting 12 goals. She recorded a hat-trick against Hallahan in September and scored the game-winning goal against Conwell Egan in the league quarterfinals on Oct. 26.
“Ursula has done very well. She always hustles,” said Pittaoulis. “She’s a good player.”
Coyle has helped guide her squad to postseason play throughout her three years of varsity soccer with the Sentinels.
With the high school season over, she’ll resume playing with the Lighthouse Soccer Club.
Plus, there’s always next year at Little Flower.
“Oh, we’re winning next year,” Coyle said confidently. “We’re losing thirteen seniors, so it’ll be tough, but we want it more than anyone else.” ••
Editor Melissa Yerkov can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org