Hawks feel sadness, pride as season comes to an end
Montverde Academy tops Viera on penalty kicks
Viera High senior Emily Bodi scored a pair of second half goals in the Hawks' Class 4A regional quarterfinal against Montverde Academy Tuesday night. Despite the late comeback, the Hawks lost on penalty kicks.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
Make no mistake, the Viera High girls soccer team was sad to see its season come to an end Tuesday night in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals against Montverde Academy.
But if you’re going to go out, knowing you left it all on the field and pushed the No. 1-ranked team in the state to the limit … is nothing to hang your head over.
That’s how the Hawks described their feelings after rallying from a 2-0 deficit to push Montverde Academy into penalty kicks before eventually losing to the Eagles.
“It was sad because we came so close,” senior Brooke Walsh said. “Montverde is obviously such a good team. But we fought. It was a good last game because we gave it everything we had.
“We lost on PKs. That’s a tough way to lose, regardless. But it’s not like I look back and think, ‘Oh, if we had done this,’ or ‘if we had only worked harder.’
“I’m proud of our team. We did a lot this season. We stepped up.”
Tuesday’s loss marked the final game in the careers of seniors Walsh, JJ Bryant, Emily Bodi, Mollie Roe, Hannah Howe, Kristen Clark and Riley Simpson. Jackie Zumsteg, also a senior, was a former player for the Hawks before a back injury ended her career. She served as Viera's team manager this past season.
For many of those seniors, their careers included being part of two state championship-winning teams, including the 2015-16 Viera team that was named national champion by TopDrawer Soccer.com.
“Words can’t describe how grateful I am to be part of such an amazing program and to be so successful,” Bodi said. “I was really upset for me (Tuesday) night because it was my last game with these girls, and I just love them so much.
“This program has given me a lot of experiences that I’ll always remember. I’m just so grateful and blessed.”
After losing to Melbourne – also on penalty kicks – in the district finals, the Hawks (12-4-1) knew they were going to have their hands full playing at Montverde Academy (17-1), a team that had been ranked No. 1 in the state by MaxPreps and is No. 6 in the state according to TopDrawer Soccer.com.
The Eagles had outscored their opponents 80-10 this season, their only loss coming to perennial state champ St. Johns Country Day.
Before his team took the field to play Montverde Academy, Viera coach Cal Dixon told his players to make sure they left everything out on the field, to fight for everything and, most importantly, to leave the field knowing they had no regrets about the effort they gave.
Montverde jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Viera before Bodi scored twice in a five-minute span in the second half to tie things up.
“The fight that they showed to come back in the game was outstanding,” Dixon said. “They’ve got nine international players on their roster of 17, and I think three of them play for their national teams.
“For us to get any kind of result against a team like that is really, really good. And to fight back from 2-0 down, it just shows everything the program’s been about over the last few years.
“They never give up. They never quit. And they proved it again. It’s just a heartbreaker that we lost on penalty kicks again. It’s heartbreaking, but it was also a really good performance and a really good fight back against a very good team.”
Walsh, a four-year starter for the Hawks, said it still seems like yesterday that she was on the field as a freshman, playing for the state title.
“It went by so fast,” she said. “But it’s been such a fun experience. Those are some of my best high school memories, playing soccer here.”
As hard as it will be to say goodbye to the seniors, Viera knows it still has a bright future with a roster that includes underclassmen like Cassie Bodi: Kylie Pulliam: Mya Norton: Hanna Vega: Victoria Rosario; Carolina Santos; Jordan Spira; Taylor Collins; Allie Worley; Madelyn Rosario; Catherine Koegel; Caroline Boston; Amanda Zaroogian; Serena Zarzana and Abbie Rolling.
“The seniors have left the program in really good shape, better than when they came here, which is what you want them to do,” Dixon said. “Winning two state championships, there’s not a lot of people that can say that.
“I’m really proud of them. I want them to come back and support the team next year. They’re going to be on the bench, encouraging us. I’m looking forward to seeing all of them back next year.
“And I’m looking forward to the future. We’ve got some really good, young players coming through. Some of them contributed (Tuesday) night, but there are a lot of them that will be coming up next year and contributing in the future.”