Hawks beat Melbourne 2-0 to claim girls soccer district title


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With the help of two first half goals and some stellar play by their defense, the Viera High girls soccer team defeated Melbourne 2-0 Wednesday night to win the district championship.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

They were so amped up before the game, they had to consciously calm themselves down.

But in the moments after the Viera High girls soccer team captured the Class 4A, District 6 championship Wednesday night with a 2-0 win over arch rival Melbourne, all bets were off.

“It’s really fulfilling,” senior forward Hope Leonard said. “I can’t even explain it. When everybody was running in and celebrating … it just felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

“It was like, ‘We did it. We did it.’ And it was awesome.”

Winning the district championship was the goal the Hawks had set at the beginning of the year, knowing full well they would likely have to get past the defending state champions, a team that had broken their hearts numerous times in the past.

Hollyn Knight scored on an assist from Jordan Walsh in the game’s first five minutes to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. Leonard would make it 2-0 when she converted a Nicki Fisher cross later in the first half and goalkeeper Sydney Lau (seven saves) and the Viera defense shut the Bulldogs out for the second time this season.

Viera (15-2), which beat Melbourne for only the third time in program history, will host a Class 4A regional quarterfinal game next Thursday (Jan. 22) against the runner up from District 5.

The Hawks feel like they have a chance to go far this season.

“We’re just all so close,” Leonard said. “I haven’t felt this close to my teammates in a really long time for high school. I just feel like we work hard for each other and we go out there and we give it our all.

“That’s what it’s about. You don’t want anybody going out there going, ‘eh, I could be doing something better.’”

Viera’s players were certainly on the same page Wednesday night.

Coach Courtney Lundy, borrowing a few lines from soccer star Michelle Akers, said the team had been talking about having the right mentality when they faced Melbourne. They talked about “pushing past, going harder (and) never giving up, no matter what happens.”

“Tonight, I think my girls encompassed all of that,” Lundy said.

Part of that mentality also included staying calm and playing the style of game the Hawks wanted to play, not letting Melbourne take control. Given their history with the Bulldogs and what was at stake Wednesday night, the Hawks got to the game earlier than usual so they could take time to make sure they didn’t get too pumped up before the game.

“We had to keep ourselves humble,” Walsh said. “Actually, one of the things we talked about before the game was (that) pride is the biggest defeat, because as soon as you get too prideful, you lose.”

It was that mentality, Walsh believed, that proved to be the difference in the game. Unlike their previous meeting, when the Hawks could not always keep their composure, they were in control on this night.

That may be the best part about what happened Wednesday night. Because the Hawks wouldn’t be surprised at all if they ended up facing Melbourne again in the regional semifinals.

These are two teams that always bring out the best in each other.

“They’re Melbourne,” Leonard said. “There’s just an aroma about the game. You feel it coming up, you get kinda nervous. But we controlled it (tonight). We really wanted it.”