The Independence High School Lady Eagles captured the first District 12-AAA girls’ soccer championship in school history by defeating the Nolensville High School Lady Knights 3-2 on penalty kicks Thursday night.
The game, which took place at Columbia Central High School, finished tied at 1-1 after regulation and extra time. The Eagles then saw three straight kickers step up to the spot and bury the ball in the back of the net. Goalkeeper Presley Covey stopped Nolensville’s second and fourth kicker to give the Knights the championship victory.
Ella Agnitschh, Rylee Finol and Samantha Galloway got the best of District Goalkeeper of the Year CeCe Szopa from the spot and gave the Eagles the elusive title.
“It’s an awesome feeling. We’ve had teams that have been able to compete in the districts for many years, but we’ve never been able to get over that hump,” Independence head coach David Cordero said.
“We’ve got a couple district final appearances, but this being the first championship is pretty awesome. These girls have worked hard this year. We’ve had some injury issues, so for it to be this year, it is pretty amazing.”
Independence played strong defense for most of the night, but an error at the back led to an early goal by Nolensville to put them up 1-0 in the first half.
Soon after, the Lady Eagles answered. After Rylee Finol drew a foul and earned a free kick on the edge of the box, her ensuing free kick found its way into the back of the net off a Nolensville defender to tie the score at 1-1.
“That was one of the opportunities we had created just going forward,” Cordero said. “It was good for us because we had just started to gain some momentum going forward so, to gain their free kick, allowed us to gain that confidence.”
The Eagles carried that confidence throughout the rest of the game getting huge stops by Covey and some stellar play from the back five of the defense, especially center backs District Defensive Player of the Year Ella Agnitsch and All-District performer Averill Sanchez.
Cordero also said outside backs, Samantha Galloway, Kailee Bethmann (All District), and Gracie Carden (All-District) played very well and played key roles in stopping Nolensville’s offensive attack, which included District Player of the Year Maddie Padelski.
“Every save that we made in the back allowed us to gain just a little more confidence,” Cordero said. “It was our best defensive game this year. We played well at times, we give up a goal here or there because of a mistake, and today we limited those mistakes, which was our goal going in.”
Covey came up with some huge saves, especially in the second half when Nolensville tried to put more pressure.
The win avenges a 3-1 loss to the Knights on Sept.22 and sets up a rematch with Centennial at home for Independence. The Eagles tied Centennial, 1-1, back on Aug. 30.
Cordero worries about his injury situation but it’s next player up this time of year in the playoffs.
“Like we told the girls, the next player is ready to go,” he said. “We saw some of that tonight. We gained some experience in that regard going into Centennial we get to play at home, and that is one of the goals that we set for this game, to be able to play one more time at home. That’s a good thing for us.”
Both teams will advance to the regional round on Oct. 18 where Independence will host Centennial and Nolensville will visit Ravenwood.
In Class AA, Page (17-0-2) remained unbeaten with a District 11 championship win at home over Murfreesboro Central on Thursday night, but the Patriots had to sweat it out.
The game was scoreless at the end of regulation, but senior and Tennessee Tech commit Emerson Ladd came through with a huge goal just two minutes into overtime that ultimately proved to be the game winner.
Page will now face the runner-up of District 12 on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at home.
In Division II-A, both Battle Ground Academy and Grace Christian Academy earned wins in the region semifinals.
BGA (14-5) defeated Franklin Road Academy 4-1 thanks to goals from seniors Keaton Mitchell, Cat Schreiber, and Lindsey Summarell and sophomore Phoebe Lott. FRA's lone score came from freshman Charlotte Rapello.
GCA (8-5-1) won 3-2 over Nashville Christian. The Lions scored back-to-back goals in less than a minute with 15 minutes to play until halftime. A third goal with just under 30 minutes left put the game out of reach. NCS forward Ava Pomeroy added two late goals, but it wasn't enough.
The Wildcats and Lions will face each other in the middle region championship at 2 p.m. at BGA on Saturday.