HAMILTON — The Fairfield High School girls soccer team threw all it had at Lakota East on Tuesday night in a Division I sectional final at Hamilton’s Virgil Schwarm Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Indians, East senior goalkeeper Madison Hart was determined to not conclude her prep career without a win over the Indians.
Despite at times facing an onslaught, Hart stood strong and enabled the Thunderhawks to pull off a 2-1 upset over second-seeded Fairfield in overtime.
Sophomore Sophia Amaya broke free with 4:47 left in the first overtime to knock home the game-winner as East avenged a 6-1 loss to the Indians three weeks ago.
“This feels pretty great,” said Hart as her teammates celebrated around her. “We wanted to finally beat them and take our name back. That first game really pushed us to play harder. My defense in front of me was great tonight. This is such an adrenaline rush.”
The Thunderhawks, seeded 14th, will meet Mount Notre Dame for a district championship at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Walnut Hills. MND topped St. Ursula 2-1 on Tuesday.
“Once you get to overtime, it is anyone’s game,” East coach Tom McEwan said. “One mistake can kill you. We told our girls there are two seasons, the regular season and the postseason. We play one of the toughest schedules in not only the region but also the state, and it helps prepare us for games like this.”
While the Thunderhawks (10-6-3) celebrated, Fairfield could only ponder its missed opportunities.
The Indians scored early on a Jaden Leist goal, but despite constant pressure couldn’t push another past Hart. Fairfield finished 13-2-3 and graduates 12 seniors.
Indians coach Patrick O’Leary struggled to find words after the match.
“This is the hardest part,” he said. “We knew (East) would give maximum effort and they did, from their coaches and players. You know, if you play 10 times you might win nine of them, but the one always hurts. We had a lot of opportunities, but couldn’t get another goal. Give their goalie credit. She came to play and she was the MVP tonight. “
Fairfield suffered through many near-misses only to see East capitalize on a set piece when leading scorer Kate Larbes drilled a 25-yard direct kick with 23 minutes left in the second half.
East played a physical game all night, with many non-calls leading to a yellow card for O’Leary, but the strategy worked for the Thunderhawks.
Junior Mackenzie Bierman and sophomore Avery Mahon controlled the back line while the Thunderhawks picked their moments to attack.
“When you get this far, both teams are good,” McEwan said. “It was a well-fought battle.”
While FF pressed the attack in OT, East capitalized when Jenna Kralik found Amaya streaking free. Fairfield goalie Jordan Shotwell made the initial save, but the rebound fell to Amaya’s feet and she slid it home.
“I was so nervous I was going to miss,” Amaya said. “I knew there is no way I was going to miss and let my team down.”
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