Both Ben Lomond and Brighton successfully defended their state girls' soccer titles at the 1900 championships at Derks Field Saturday afternoon, but they did it in very different ways.
While the Bengals were earning a hard-fought 2-1 overtime victory over Skyline, the Scots rolled to a rather easy 4-1 win over Ogden.Brighton entered Saturday's final with an unbeaten season record and an unblemished scored-on mark in this year's tournament. The Bengals had outscored their state tournament opponents 26-0 entering the matchup with Skyline, a team they had already beaten twice, by scores of 4-0 and 4-1, earlier in the year.
The Eagles were clearly ready to play, however. Sophomore goalie Camille Thomas was outstanding in goal on Saturday, matching Brighton senior keeper Kortni Kirkman on every save. In fact, Thomas may have been the tourney's most outstanding player, although Kirkman probably earned that distinction, as she gave up only two goals the entire season.
Brighton scored first with 14:30 left in the first half as senior Joanna Barney nailed a left-footed rebound into the upper left corner. It was Barney's 42nd goal of the year. Skyline's first half offense consisted mainly of long shots at Kirkman, who had little trouble saving them.
But the Eagles got the tying goal in the first minute of the second half. Jeanette Sounders took a pass near midfield, moved down the left sideline and boomed a shot from 25 yards that short-hopped in front of Kirkman and scooted through her arms. Though both teams had several other chances to win in regulation, the game ended deadlocked at 1-1.
Thomas was particularly brilliant in two scoreless overtimes, saving four shots to force a penalty kick shootout.
The shootout was all Brighton, however, as Barney, Camille Lubeck and Emily Lubeck each scored while Kirkman stopped one Skyline attempt and the other two sailed over the goal.
"I've been in state tournaments before both with boys' and girls' teams, and I know they can often come down to penalty kicks, so it's something we've worked on," stated Lady Bengal Coach Kathy Kuhn. Brighton now has an amazing 73-1 record over the last five seasons, along with five state titles, the latest two officially sanctioned.
3A State Championship
Ben Lomond made it two straight state crowns in a row, defeating Region Five foe Ogden. In two previous meetings this year, the Scots beat and tied the Tigers.
Ben Lomond's Nikki Candalora, a strong candidate for 3A MVP honors, scored midway through the first period on Coach Bonnie Burr's "flower" play, where all players scatter on a free kick. Candalora rammed the kick home to make it 1-0 at halftime.
Ogden countered with 35 minutes left in the game as Jody Williams took a pass right in front of the net and softly pushed one past Tara Pullman. It only took the Scots a minute to regain the lead, however, as Candalora beat two defenders and nailed a right-footer just inside the right post to make it 2-1.
Jessica Wright made it 3-1 five minutes later after a throw in from the right side. The Scots wrapped things up when Candalora crossed to Kari Youngman, who scored on the header. Ben Lomond finished the season 18-0-1 and, with both teams losing only three seniors, both the Scots and Tigers could well meet again in the finals next year.