Walsh’s dramatic goal gives Viera girls soccer district title
The Viera High girls soccer team won its second straight district title Friday night with a dramatic 2-1 double-overtime victory against cross-town rival Melbourne
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
In the space of just a few seconds, Jordan Walsh’s facial expression went from, ‘Oh no!” to “Oh yes!”
Seeing her penalty kick blocked by Melbourne High goalkeeper Kendall Mindnich, Walsh pounced on the rebound and put in the back of the net with just 1:21 left in the second overtime period to give the Viera Hawks an emotional 2-1 victory
And once again, the Viera High girls soccer team is the Class 4A, District champion.
“I couldn’t breathe, I was screaming so loud,” Viera junior Shannon Gosule said. “(Jordan) having a PK was unbelievable. And then following it up, that’s something we work on. That she knew what to do, that was just awesome. It won us the game.”
Viera (17-1-1), which has now won back-to-back district titles for the first time in school history, will host Lake Minneola (12-5-2) in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals Thursday night at 7.
A victory there could lead to another game against the Bulldogs (15-5-5) provided Melbourne can get past District 5 champion Edgewater (17-1-1) on the road Thursday night.
Should that happen, it would have all the makings of an instant classic, just like Friday night’s district final was.
Take two well-coached, talented teams and add in the fact that they’re cross-town rivals that always play their best against each other, and you get games like this.
After a frantic first half in which both teams had their chances, the game was still scoreless. That is, until Melbourne’s Sarah Nies struck a beautiful shot high and to the far post to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead with just 26 minutes left in regulation.
The way the game had been going, one goal seemed like it might be enough. But the Hawks harkened back to last year’s regional final when they came back from a 3-1 deficit in the final 25 minutes against Mitchell to win 4-3 on their way to capturing the state championship.
“We actually brought that (Mitchell game) up,” Gosule said. “We were like, ‘We’ve been down before and we’ve gotten up again.’ We had that mentality where, no matter that we were down, it was still 0-0 and we still had a game to win and a game to fight (for).
“That’s what our attitude was. We weren’t going to lose. Being down 1-0 wasn’t going to stop us from winning the game and working as hard as we could.”
Like Gosule, Hawks coach Courtney Lundy had no doubt that – win or lose – her players were going to give it everything they had until that final whistle.
“I had no doubt that we wouldn’t give up,” Lundy said “It brought us back to Mitchell last year. We’ve been here. We know how to do it. We practice it. They know how to handle that pressure. They were going to work for it. They were going to do whatever they could to try to get another goal in the back of the net.”
That happened with just under 19 minutes left when Brooke Walsh managed to get free of two defenders long enough to send the ball high toward the goal, where it hit off the crossbar and went into the net to tie the score at 1-1.
It remained scoreless from there as both teams played good defense and Mindnich (seven saves) and Viera’s Sydney Lau (two saves) came up big when their teams needed it.
The game went into two overtime periods and just when it looked like we might be headed for penalty kicks, the Bulldogs were called for fouling Viera’s Emily Bodi in the box with 1:21 left on the clock.
Lundy sent Walsh up to take the penalty kick.
And while the senior was remembering what Lundy always told her, she also knew it would be a challenge getting past Mindnich, who would be well-prepared by one of Melbourne’s coaches, Mike Lord.
“Courtney always says to always rebound, always get there,” Walsh said. “It’s a 50-50 shot with that, especially with Mike. He’s a very good coach. He makes sure he watches the players and knows where they’re going.
“That was nerve-wracking, because I had a feeling she knew where I was going to go, but I just knew I had to hit it hard enough, hopefully get a rebound or just put it in the back of the net.”
Walsh went left, but Mindnich was able to get her hands on it. And for a moment, everyone and everything seemed to stop.
That is, except for Walsh, who came charging forward.
“I was really frustrated that it actually didn’t go in, so I was like, ‘OK, this is going in the back of the net,’” she said.
This time, Walsh went to her right. And the rest …. Well, it’s now a part of Viera High School sports history.
“Oh my goodness, it felt like … it was surreal,” Walsh said. “I felt accomplished because I’d been having difficulties with PKs. I wanted to get that done.”
In case anyone thought last year’s district title, regional title, or even state title was just a one-hit wonder … think again.
“It was so exciting,” Gosule said. “We had put so much time and effort into this. We were fighting and it was non-stop. We wanted to win, and we wanted to show that we can win again.
“We worked so hard and everyone’s just so excited. It’s just amazing to happen again.”