Sentinel pride

Little Flower failed to win the Cath­ol­ic League crown, but the Sen­tinels still have plenty to cel­eb­rate.

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 my­

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