By Brent Glasgow firstname.lastname@example.org
Hendricks County Flyer
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — In a defensive chess match with Hoosier Crossroads Conference rival Fishers, the Avon girls’ soccer team pulled the ultimate checkmate for its first state championship.
Cassidy Blacha knocked in a corner kick from Hope Van Wagner with 1:28 left in the first overtime, and Fishers failed to threaten the rest of the way, as the Orioles took the Class 2A crown with a 1-0 victory Saturday at IUPUI.
Fittingly, Blacha, who was nothing short of spectacular in the postseason, made the play that delivered the biggest win in program history.
“It was coming in and I had to change my run because I wasn’t running the same play as Bailee (Storms),” Blacha said. “Then I just came in, hit it and it didn’t touch the ground. It was awesome.”
Avon (18-2-3) tied 1-1 with Fishers (16-3-3) in September, and Saturday’s contest on the state’s biggest stage was a similar battle.
“It was really back-and-forth,” Blacha said. “We just had to control the middle, do our job and work together. We did a really good job of that against a really tough team.”
Adding to the celebration, Avon four-year letter-winner Sarah Zolcak was awarded the 2A Girls Mental Attitude Award.
“This is great,” Zolcak said. “From where we started in the summer conditioning to today, the conditioning really paid off. With our boys playing here, too, and the spirit here, it’s just amazing.”
While Avon had plenty of young talent, Orioles coach Eric Nance said Zolcak and the team’s five other seniors were the reason this year’s team took the title.
“This group of seniors was awesome this year,” Nance said. “Our leadership was great. Everyday in practice they worked. The intensity in practice was better than any season I’ve been here.”
Saturday’s first half played out like a 40-minute feeling-out period, as both teams probed for weaknesses and found none. Van Wagner had the two best scoring looks of the half, as she hit a free kick off the crossbar and headed a bar-shot from Miranda Ricks just over the goal.
With offensive opportunities hard to come by, the teams combined for just three shots on goal and three corner kicks in the first half.
Playing with the wind in the second half, Ricks found Van Wagner for an open shot six minutes in, but the point-blank look went right to Fishers goalkeeper Morgan Hammon.
Like the opening 40 minutes, Avon controlled the ball the vast majority of the second half. The Orioles outshot Fishers 6-2, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Fishers had the wind advantage in the first overtime, and Avon keeper Kelsey Dossey had two saves to keep it scoreless.
With 1:28 left in the initial OT, Blacha got a foot on Van Wagner’s corner for what held up as the game-winner.
“Cassidy wanted to go with a different corner kick play, and I agreed with her and she went after it and attacked the ball hard,” Nance said. “Hope Van Wagner played a good ball in as well.”
Blacha said the state championship was earned with season-long focus and effort.
“We work so hard in practice and all the time,” Blacha said. “What’s the point of working so hard if you don’t win?”
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports writer Brent Glasgow on Twitter @BGlasgow37.