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SG Soccer White: Backflips, Handstands and the Best Photo Shoot Ever

By Erik Van Dyke
Add in hugs, huge smiles, and the loudest, most joyful team cheer I’ve heard in years, and you’ve got what happened after the ETIAC banner-deciding game three nights ago vs perpetual soccer rival Alexander Galt.
What happened during the game? I’m glad you asked…
The girls knew what was at stake. You could see it in the warmup. Game faces all the way on. Focused. I was worried that being under the Friday Nite Lights, 7:30 pm, at Bishop’s University’s storied Coulter Field might intimidate them. Not a chance. It only added to the intensity.

We played a near-perfect first half. The talented Pipers tried to move the ball in the midfield, but Gloria Riddell, Charlotte Dube, Siena Webster, Lana Peasley, and Camryn Moore – the best they’d ever played as a unit – shut them down. Jumped the passing lanes. Anticipated the runs. Chased. Dug. Communicated. Backchecked. Most importantly, forced them outside outside outside, nothing up the middle. A virtuoso, hard-hat performance when it mattered most.

Problem was, there was a lot of “outside” out there. Did I mention that Coulter Field is freaking HUGE? The AGR strikers had acres of space, on perfect turf no less, to attack our wing defenders 1 on 1. But they’d never met the S.A.K. Line before. At least a dozen times Krystine Breton and Sara Paquette found themselves on an island out wide facing an opponent who was faster and more skilled than they were. But they simply refused to get beat. In that first half, they found a way every time.

Offensively, we played for the counterattack, and were rewarded when Bernadette von Campenhausen cut wide around Galt’s right defender (I told ya, lot of space out there), bore down on the keeper, and forced off a shot that pinballed off at least 3 players and ultimately bounced into the AGR net. Lucky goal? Damn right. Was I okay with a 1-0 halftime lead? Damn right-er!

But 40 minutes of containing Alexander Galt EXHAUSTED us – it felt like we’d already played a full game. Legs were heavy. Breaths more shallow. And we had another 40(!) minutes to go. Gone was our zip. The tank was near empty. All we really had left was effort. Will. Desire. Would it be enough? Could it be?

Right away, the Pipers were all over us. First to every ball. Completely controlling the midfield. Avah was now under pressure at center defense, with gaps consistently opening in front of her. Our counterattack fizzled, as we couldn’t gain possession. When Galt wasn’t peppering our net with powerful long-range shots, they were gaining our 18-yard box and earning corner kicks. 40 minutes of this? Really? It seemed like a matter of time until they scored.

But we had one thing our skilled, well-coached opponents did not have. Maddie Lippmann. Confident, fearless, and insanely sure-handed, Maddie made ZERO mistakes in the biggest game of the year. Came off her line exactly when she should. Neutralized corner kicks. And firmly caught every single ball Galt hammered her way. Not a single bobble, never mind a rebound. Look up “clutch” in the dictionary and you’ll see Maddie in her bright goalie jersey and big ol’ goalie gloves.

I’ve never felt 40 minutes go so slowly, but when Bernadette turned a half-chance into an insurance goal with 10 minutes left, making it 2-0 in a game we only had to tie to secure the banner, I started to relax.
When Charlotte Hughes – the fittest player on the team – found the energy to sprint alone into Galt territory, win the ball, and keep possession for a full minute vs 3 defenders, I started to believe.
And when the final whistle blew, I started to smile. And I haven’t stopped since.

In sports, if you’re lucky, you get some MOMENTS. That team cheer, under the lights on a perfect starry night, on the logo at the center of the pitch, claiming Coulter Field as “Our House!”, the unbridled, deafening joy and pride, arm in arm together - that was a MOMENT for me.

The endless photo shoot afterwards? Another MOMENT.

On September 9, you didn’t know each other’s names. September 16, we lost 1-0 to SC Red in a controlled scrimmage. September 20, we tied Massey 1-1 in the first official game of the season. Since that day, except for a loss to LCC in the SIT Finals, we won every single game we played, and brought the banner home for the second year in a row.

You all did that. Not because you were the most talented soccer players in the league. But because you trusted the system, you trusted each other, and you gave everything you had when it mattered most.

Enjoy the MOMENT, ladies. You’ve earned it.

- Coaches VD & K
The year so far…
8 wins 1 loss 1 tie   ETIAC Record:  5-0-1
Goals for: 22    Goals against:  8
S.I.T. Silver Medalists
E.T.I.A.C. Regular Season CHAMPIONS