Epic comeback lifts Hawks to dramatic victory over Martin County

Goals by Pippett, Staerk and Arbeeny in final two minutes tie it, Chang wins it in OT


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Viera's Tristen Chang (left) reacts after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime off a pass from Lia Arbeeny (center) as the Hawks rallied from three goals down to beat Martin County 11-10 Friday night.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

It was one of those games that not only tests the skill of a team, but also its character and resolve.

And as the Viera High girls lacrosse team showed Friday night, the Hawks have got all three.

Trailing Martin County by three goals with 2:32 to play, the Hawks got goals by Micki Pippet, Brianna Staerk and an incredible game-tying goal by Lia Arbeeny on a breakaway just before the clock ran out to send the game into overtime.

Then, with Arbeeny set up to take a penalty shot, she instead passed the ball to teammate Tristen Chang, who scored to give the Hawks a dramatic 11-10 victory over visiting Martin County in a big Class 2A, District 8 matchup.

“We wanted to win this game so bad,” Chang said. “I think for us, we had a lot to prove coming off last season and how we did against them.”

Martin County defeated Viera 21-6 last season in what was then a non-district game.

But with the FHSAA splitting lacrosse into two classes this season, the Hawks and Tigers are in now in the same district with Melbourne, South Fork, Sebastian River and perennial state title contender Vero Beach.

Friday’s win not only improves Viera’s chances of getting a favorable seeding in the district tournament, it also gives the Hawks a big injection of confidence.

“Like I said to them, (tonight) shows what they can do in the face of adversity,” first-year Viera varsity coach Alison Staerk said. “In the past, they would just crumble and not be able to fight their way back from that.

“(Tonight), they showed they can handle it. They can do it.”

Sophomore Lexi Fischer finished with four goals and an assists to lead Viera (4-1 overall, 3-0 district).

Chang scored twice and added two assists. Pippett had two goals and an assist. Brianna Staerk also scored a pair of goals. Arbeeny had a goal and an assist and Maddy Murawski finished with two assists.

Viera goalie Brooke Halfacre had seven saves.

The Hawks opened the game by taking a 3-0 lead only to see Martin County come back and tie it. The score remained tight throughout with both teams coming up with big goals when they had to.

As time wound down in regulation, however, it appeared the Tigers were going to pull away in the final 13 minutes as they scored three times to break a 7-7 tie and take a three-goal lead with 2:32 to play.

Pippett would score 10 seconds later to cut the lead to two. Then, it was Brianna Staerk who made it a one-goal game with 2:02 remaining.

Viera had possession of the ball with about one minute to play, but turned the ball over and it looked like Martin County would run out the clock.

Instead, the ball came free and Fischer was able to launch a long pass to a wide open Arbeeny, who raced toward the goal and put it home just before the clock ran out.

“There was no girl on me. I saw the pass and I went right to the goal,” Arbeeny said. “I was so nervous. I had a lot of pressure on me.”

The game went into overtime, with the momentum clearly on Viera’s side. And it wasn’t long until Arbeeny and the Hawks were looking at a penalty shot.

“She looked at me. We didn’t know if she was going to shoot or if I was going to shoot,” Chang said. “Obviously, she made the last goal. She was doing good. It’s hard to tell when you’re in those situations -- a lot of pressure – if you have the better angle, or if someone else does, and what the goalie’s expecting.”

That’s why the pass to Chang came as a surprise.

“The goalie was not expecting it at all,” Arbeeny said with a smile.

And now the Hawks feel like they have a lot of momentum going forward after such a big win that shows how far the program has come in recent years.

“I love it,” Arbeeny said. “My team, we’re literally like a family. We’re all so close.”