Hawks beat Navarre 2-0 in state semifinals, advance to Class 4A girls soccer title game
Viera High players celebrate after beating Navarre 2-0 Friday in the Class 4A state semifinal. The Hawks will play for the state championship Saturday at 12:05 p.m.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
MELBOURNE – It will hit them all at some point.
But in the moments after they had just won the biggest game of their high school careers, the biggest game in school history, members of the Viera High girls soccer team were still trying to take it all in.
“It’s kind of surreal,” senior forward Hope Leonard said. “It’s kind of like … really? Is this really happening? I can’t even imagine it right now.”
Oh, it’s real all right.
By defeating Navarre 2-0 in the Class 4A state semifinals Friday morning at Eastern Florida State College, the Hawks booked themselves a spot in the state championship game.
Viera (19-2) will face Pembroke Pines Charter (21-1), which defeated Venice 2-1 on penalty kicks, on Saturday at 12:05 p.m. for the state title.
“This has been our goal for the last three or four years, and finally getting there … I feel like all of a sudden it’s going to come like a boulder rolling down (the hill) and I’m going to be like, ‘Oh my God!’” Viera junior attacking center mid Jordan Walsh said.
The Hawks certainly earned their title shot, dominating possession against Navarre (23-3-2) for much of the game and winning nearly all of the 50/50 balls … which was, of course, part of coach Courtney Lundy’s strategy.
“The main thing we kept stressing was winning the 50/50 balls,” Lundy said. “You win the 50/50 balls, you stay in the game and you stay on top.”
Senior Kassidy Mills put the Hawks in front at the 10-minute mark with a tremendous shot that ripped past Navarre goalkeeper Julianna DeSalle.
Leonard made it 2-0 in the game’s 45th minute by delivering a free kick past a crowding Jaguars defense and into the net.
“I didn’t ask for 10 (yards) because I liked the fact that their defenders were standing – they didn’t have a wall, they were standing – and they gave me holes to shoot through,” Leonard said.
“… I shot it as quickly as I could and I knew it was going in.”
The rest was up to the Viera High defense which came through with its 16th shutout of the season. Freshman goalkeeper Sydney Lau was credited with three saves on the day as the Hawks outshot Navarre 11-6 on the day.
Considering the wild ride the Hawks have taken to get here – beating Melbourne on penalty kicks in the regional semifinals, then coming back from a 3-1 deficit with 25 minutes to play in the regional finals against Mitchell – Friday’s win was pretty drama free.
Watching them play, it’s easy to see this is a team with players who clearly believe in each other.
“The Mitchell game was like a turning point for us, because we came back from (what could have been) a loss,” Walsh said. “We all kind of bonded together. I love playing with this team.
“We cheer, ‘I’ve got your back.’ That’s the whole point of our team. We’re going to work our butts off for each other. We may not be the most skilled, but … I’ve got you.”
It’s safe to say Saturday’s game, no matter the outcome, will be one to remember for seniors like Leonard, Mills, Nicki Fisher, Tori Clark, Natalie Bertran and Emily Ramsey.
But it will also be a big day for juniors like Jordan Walsh, Sarah Sanford, Sarah Kelliher and Alexandra Capalbo; sophomores Morgan Pulliam, Julia Ramsey, Hollyn Knight, Cori Fisher, Anna Martin, and Shannon Gosule and freshmen Alyssa Whisel, Lau, Mollie Roe, Brookelyn Walsh, Hannah Dearing and Emily Bodi as well.
Their goal at the beginning of the season was to win their district. And each time they met that goal, they raised the bar just a little higher.
Now, the Hawks are on the brink of the ultimate goal, one that is firmly within their grasp.
“It’s a great feeling,” Leonard said. “It’s … I don’t know. It just feels like, oh we have another game. It’s not going to hit me until a couple of minutes before that we’re actually playing for the state championship.
“It’s going to be so fun, though. I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else. These girls are great.”