Five minutes after Avon’s boys captured a semi-state title on an adjacent field Saturday night, the Oriole girls did the same, setting off a wild, facility-wide celebration.
Second-ranked Avon started the day with a 2-0 win over Columbus East, and capped it with a 2-1 victory over No. 12 Center Grove to make the Class 2A state championship.
Center Grove struck first nine minutes in, but Avon blanked the Trojans the rest of the way, and goals by Hope Van Wager and Bailee Storms brought home the Orioles’ first-ever semi-state crown.
“It’s been a while since we’ve given up a goal early, so we had to come back, and the girls stuck together,” Avon coach Eric Nance said. “Hope had a nice individual effort on her goal, and Bailee came out of halftime hard and had a nice header for us.”
Van Wagner tied it five minutes after Center Grove’s Amber Perry put the Trojans ahead, and it was the last goal until two minutes into the second half, when Storms headed in a Van Wagner corner kick.
“Hope always plays a perfect corner, and I knew exactly where to run,” Storms said. “I was there and it just went right between the keeper’s legs.”
Avon reached the final with a convincing win over Columbus East, as Cassidy Blacha scored just over two minutes in to put the Orioles in the driver’s seat.
“That definitely gives you confidence,” Nance said. “The last couple games we went to the last 10 minutes at 0-0. When you’re able to get that quick lead, it’s a lot more comfortable.”
Blacha had all of the game’s four shots on goal in the first half, and tallied eight for the game. One slammed off the crossbar 11 minutes into the second half, and with 10 minutes remaining, she sent home the final score of the contest.
“We just had to take our chances,” Blacha said. “We didn’t have time to mess around, so we just went at it to try and do whatever it took to win.”
Prior to Blacha’s last goal, Avon goalkeeper Kelsey Dossey kept the Orioles in front by sprinting back to the frame for a leaping, one-handed tip save after making a play on an East attacker.
Avon (17-2-3) will face Hoosier Crossroads Conference rival Fishers (16-2-3) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at IUPUI. The teams tied 1-1 at Avon on Sept. 11.
While attention will turn to that meeting soon enough, Avon players, coaches, fans, teachers and administrators relished Saturday’s accomplishments in the southwest corner of the state.
“At the beginning of the year, we knew we’d have two good teams here, but you couldn’t picture winning semi-state at the same time and having a chance to win a state championship the next week,” Nance said. “Both programs have had great seasons, and both are fighters.”