ZIONSVILLE — In one of the toughest girls’ soccer sectionals in the state, No. 2-ranked Avon took on No. 4 Zionsville Wednesday night for a spot in Saturday’s regional final.
In a match that ebbed and flowed back and forth all night, Avon seized the moment and secured a 1-0 victory over the Eagles.
“It was huge,” Avon coach Eric Nance said of the win. “In games like this, it’s pretty much who scores first gets the victory because both teams are good defensively and have great soccer players.
“We just put it in the back of the net when we needed to.”
No opportunity was bigger for the Orioles than Hope Van Wagner’s corner kick late in the second half. Avon’s Cassidy Blacha, headed Van Wagner’s boot towards the goal and in the ensuing scrum, defender Bailee Storms sent the ball past Zionsville keeper Catherine Schmidt and into the back of the net.
“I usually start running to get back on defense, but I dropped to the top of the box and the ball just popped out and I kicked it in,” Storms said. “I put it in left-footed, which is not my dominant foot, so I was pretty excited. I have no words, it was amazing.”
Storms’ shot put the Orioles up by a goal with 13:55 left in the match.
Zionsville pushed even harder the rest of the way and with 1:36 left in the match, the Eagles’ Madison Lewis sent the tying goal past Avon keeper Kelsey Dossey.
However, the official on the far side of the field raised his flag, signaling a Zionsville player was offside and the score was nullified.
“We get that those calls have to be made, but with 90 seconds left to go you have to be 120 percent sure you are going to raise that flag,” Zionsville coach Ramon Aguillon said. “There were so many people in the box and to be honest, to call an offside when the ball gets kicked, the person might have been there when the ball arrived, but that doesn’t mean they were there when the ball got kicked.
“I couldn’t see it from my vantage point, the girls say it wasn’t (offside). It’s just unfortunate, it really, really is.”
The two teams battled back and forth through the first half of play, neither taking a decisive advantage.
The second half started out in the same fashion, however, Zionsville began possessing the ball for long spurts but Dossey and Avon’s defense denied a number of opportunities.
“Kelsey is all over the place and made some huge saves for us,” Nance said. “She keeps us organized and most importantly, she keeps the team’s spirit up.”
Avon (14-2-3) moves on to play Brebeuf (12-4-3) at 11 a.m. on Saturday for a regional title.
No. 10 Brebeuf defeated No. 13 Cathedral 1-0 after their earlier match went into penalty kicks following two overtime periods.
Brebeuf knocked Avon out of the Zionsville regional two years ago in the first round. The teams met again last year at the Zionsville Invite, ending in a tie.
“We will enjoy the win tonight before focusing on Brebeuf,” Nance said. “We’re excited to have that opportunity.”