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CATA Claims 1A Crown

The team poses with their trophy and medals.

One goal is all it took for the Central Academy girls soccer team to put the first-ever state championship trophy in the case.

The Cougars defeated Southwest Onslow 1-0 in Saturday’s 1A state championship game.

“It’s amazing, just awesome,” Cougars coach Jay Niessner said. “These girls have worked so hard from the beginning of the year and they’ve done everything we’ve asked them. When a team does that and you end up here and you win it, it’s incredible. It’s going to be tremendous for our program, for our school, for the community and it’s just great to bring it home for everybody.”

The Cougars (20-4-1) were scoreless at halftime with the Stallions (11-9-3), who won the state title last year.

Sophomore Stephanie Arias scored the decisive goal off a Laura Courtney assist in the second half.

Both teams stopped multiple corner kick tries in the first half.

Cougars junior goalkeeper Lindsey Kurtz made a big stop toward the end of the first half to keep the game scoreless, but it was far from the pressure she would see after the break.

The beginning of the second half turned out to be the key stretch for the Cougars’ defense — which pitched its 19th shutout of the season.

With a fast front line, the Stallions broke past the defense of the Cougars in the first minute of the second half and it put Kurtz in a troubling spot with two players coming right at her. Kurtz committed early, and it turned out to be the right choice as she was able to go low and stop a shot from point-blank range.

It wasn’t over yet as the Stallions regained possession almost immediately. They broke through the defense again, and put Kurtz in a one-on-one situation.

For the second straight time, Kurtz made the stop.

“Usually you rely on your keeper to make one or two big saves in the game,” Niessner said. “When she made the first one I was like OK she has made the big saves we need her to make now we’re going to settle down and play. Then to come up huge with the other one I think that was the momentum shifter. When we stopped them again there, our girls were like ‘OK, we can keep going with this.’.”

The saves helped Kurtz earn the state championship’s Most Valuable Player honor.

“I’m so happy and so proud of this team,” Kurtz said. “We have come so far together and I love all of these girls. I’m so proud. I was so, so nervous I thought I as going to have an anxiety attack.

“The MVP award means everything to me. I was so shocked that I got it. Hannah (Hill) and Katie (Kurtz), they kept that ball from getting back to me so many times and there are so many girls on the team that deserved that.”

The Cougars scored the winning goal when Courtney flicked a little back kick pass to Arias on the left side.

Arias immediately sent a shot across the goal and into the right side of the net for the score.

“Words can’t describe how I felt,” Arias said. “I just knew when I got that ball from Laura I had to get it behind the net.”

This article is courtesy of the Enquirer Journal.

Written by: Eric Rape, Enquirer Journal
Posted: May 28, 2011 by Deb Christensen

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