The Lady Chiefs celebrate their state championship win over Whitewater on penalty kicks Saturday night.
(Photo by Chris
In every final match there is a joyous winner and a heartbroken loser. The difference is even more devastating when the fallen team is comprised of long time friends and opponents. But one team has to battle through and claim victory. On this night it was McIntosh winning the state soccer championship.
The Lady Chiefs claimed a hard fought victory, toppling the Whitewater Wildcats in penalty kicks. This is the second year in a row the Chiefs are the champions and eighth title in the program's history.
"I'm proud of my girls. I'm proud of the way they stepped up to the challenge," said McIntosh Head Coach Marcia Clark. "The girls left everything they had on the field."
On paper this was certainly Whitewater's title to lose. The Wildcats ran through the season undefeated, already beating McIntosh twice including a region championship showdown. This squad seemed destined to break through. Instead it was the fourth consecutive title game loss for the program.
"It was a great undefeated season (for Whitewater). They played like champions," praised Clark. "We respect them tremendously."
The Chiefs were unfazed by the task at hand, playing like a team that knew they could not only compete, but win. "The pressure of the moment is big. Being the favorite weighs heavy on people. We were the underdogs and we knew we could come out and do our thing," said Clark.
From the start McIntosh was on the attack, keeping the pressure on to counter the Wildcats powerful offense. It would be Chief keeper Kaitlin Deitrick who was the difference with an absolutely stunning performance. Deitrick faced an unbelievable 29 shots on the night and even bounced back after a brutal first half collision.
"Deitrick was phenomal. Deitrick is a phenomenon," beamed Clark after the game.
Her biggest save came in the first overtime. Without it, she would not have had the chance to hold steady in overtime. A misplayed ball in the box was redirected by the Cats and looked like it was headed high into the net. Somehow Deitrick made a leaping save, pulling the ball back behind her head to save the day.
The offenses would only strike it rich just once a piece during regulation. Fifteen minutes into the game Gabby Seiler scored on a free kick for McIntosh. Less than a minute later Taylor Marks tied up the game for Whitewater on a feed from Brook Colangelo.
The two teams were so tightly matched on this night that it seemed destined that regulation could not contain the game. Neither could the two overtime periods.
For the second year in a row penalty kicks would have to decide the state championship between McIntosh and Whitewater.
Much like she had all night, Whitewater keeper Christa Strickland rivaled Deitrick in the net during the shootout. Strickland was the first to notch a save, blocking the shot of the Chiefs' fourth shooter.
Deitrick though would save the day, returning the favor on the next shooter. A Whitewater goal would have ended it on the spot. "I don't even know what to say. It's a weird calm feeling that I get," said Kaitlin Deitrick. "I knew I had to do it for the team."
The Chiefs still needed to score to extend the evening and Danielle Gray was right on the mark.
Even one round of penalty kicks was not enough to finish things. Unfortunately for Whitewater, the extra time was not enough as their next kicker's shot sailed high over the goal. McIntosh stared down another state championship with Amanda Bartholomew stepping up to the ball. Last season the Chiefs called on Bartholomew as a freshman to kick the clinching penalty shot. In 2012, she was true again, slicing it past Strickland for the winner.
"It feels great. It's difficult coming in as the underdog, but we knew we didn't have anything to lose. We wanted to come out and do our best and leave it all on the field," Deitrick said. Such an emotional victory left the junior keeper struggling for words to describe the accomplishment of winning two straight years in penalty kicks. "It's insane. We just do what it takes to win."
While it hurts to see the Whitewater Wildcats fall short, one can't ignore the joy of the McIntosh Chiefs. Hard work and dedication and belief in themselves brought a trophy to McIntosh. For the second straight year there is no better team than the Lady Chiefs.