Helias drops title contest to top-ranked St. Dominic
Sunday, June 2, 2013
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — St. Dominic entered with a reputation — No. 1 team in the country. Defending state champions. Undefeated season on the line.
Helias stayed with them all game, proving it belonged.
St. Dominic got two late goals Saturday afternoon after a controversial disallowed goal for Helias to win its second consecutive Class 2 state championship 2-0 at Blue Springs South High School.
“That was the championship game,” Helias first-year head coach Brad Dempsey said. “We put one in first. We had just as many opportunities as they did and they finished the game with a great goal. They earned the win. We’re happy for them, hats off to them, but our girls proved that they’re one of the best teams in the area.”
Helias ends the season at 17-9 and with its best state tournament finish in program history.
“Right now I think the loss is hurting,” Dempsey said. “It hurts, they wanted it bad. But it’ll sink in. It’ll sink what they’ve done, what they’ve achieved.”
St. Dominic capped a nearly perfect 26-0-1 season with the school’s fourth state championship. The Lady Crusaders, from St. Charles, also won titles in 2001 and 2007.
“To go undefeated with the type of schedule that we played, it puts them up top,” St. Dominic head coach Greg Koeller said, referencing this season’s team topping the list of championship squads. “To create a legacy, the first team in St. Charles County to go back-to-back. To do it being considered No. 1 in the nation, I haven’t had a team like that.”
St. Dominic is ranked No. 1 in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Helias went toe-to-toe with that squad.
“Hats off to Helias, they gave us a great battle,” Koeller said.
In a game where St. Dominic controlled possession and the flow of the game, Helias’ defensive style combined with a counterattacking approach nearly delivered the Lady Crusaders from Jefferson City their first state title.
“We played great,” Dempsey said. “We kept the ball in front of us and we counterattacked on them successfully. We played them the way that we could. They’re so talented. For us to play them straight up, they’ll shove it down your throat down the middle. Our team played defense together and they did what we asked them to do.”
Helias appeared to take the lead at the 26:14 mark of the second half when Becky Roberts broke in and ripped a shot that forced a lunging save from St. Dominic goalkeeper Megan Swanson. The rebound ricocheted to Tiffany Weaver, who was on the doorstep to punch it in.
Pandemonium ensued as players, coaches and fans went crazy and Helias seemed to be in control. Then the linesman’s flag went up, signaling offside. The goal did not count.
“I feel like that these officials at this level are making the right calls,” Dempsey said. “So I’m assuming he made the right call. It’s a heartbreaker, because even if she wasn’t offside, she would have got there and we would have finished that goal.”
Instead of taking a 1-0 lead, the game was still scoreless.
“Momentum swinger? Yeah,” Dempsey said. “Our girls have been through so much this year. Everybody was pumped. To see that flag up over there, your heart drops to your stomach. If I’m on the sideline feeling that way, I can’t imagine what the girls on the field are feeling. They worked so hard and they defend and they play, and then they see the ball go in the back of the net for us. I feel for them.
“If that ball goes in, I think we win the game, I really do.”
St. Dominic, after pressuring all half, finally scored the game-winner with 6:11 remaining in the game. Kristin Wolff made a run down the right sideline and sent in a cross Nicole Billmeyer met with her left foot and smashed into the net for a 1-0 lead.
“They had one great ball in, a great runner got behind our defense with a great goal,” Dempsey said.
Helias nearly equalized with three minutes left when Taylor Hagenhoff rocketed a free kick from just outside the top of the box over the crossbar.
St. Dominic then put on the finishing touches when Emily Monroe scored on a cross from Brittany Marino with 1:40 left.
“It was a great cap-off to a well-played game,” Koeller said.
St. Dominic controlled possession in the opening half and understandably came close to scoring several times.
Helias’ Liz Czarnecki made a tremendous save about 22 minutes into the game when Cristina Rodriguez broke in on the left side and blasted a low shot to the right-hand corner. Czarnecki dove to her left and made the save with the very tips of her fingers to keep the game scoreless.
Helias had just as many chances in the first half before St. Dominic took over in the second. St. Dominic held a 10-5 overall edge in shots, including a 9-4 advantage in shots on goal.
Helias loses five seniors — Czarnecki, Hagenhoff, Haley Bax, Kelsie Strope and Whitley Malzner.
“They’re a great group of girls,” Dempsey said. “They put their mark on the program’s history with a third-place finish last year, second-place finish this year.
“There’s only one more place for us to go. With commitment, with hard work, with the ball bouncing the right way for us, we’re going to do our best to come back next year.”
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