CLARKSBURG, W.Va. - After watching a 1-0 lead disappear in Saturday's Class AA state championship game, head coach Tina Smith asked a question of her team.
“When you get tired in a state semifinal or a state championship game, how hard are you willing to work to win that game?” said the first-year head coach.
The Eagles responded with an emphatic answer.
Trailing Charleston Catholic 2-1 in the game’s final minutes, the Eagles found an extra gear. They rallied to force overtime, then scored a golden goal to win 3-2, earning the program's first state championship.
“They [found] that drive within themselves to dig deep and get a few more steps out of those tired legs, and finish," said Smith.
Ashton McKane and Madison Smith scored for the Eagles in regulation, allowing senior Casey Underwood to become the hero with her strike three minutes into the extra period.
“It was amazing," said Underwood. "Such a great way to end my senior season, and I couldn’t be more proud of my team and everything we’ve accomplished this season.”
But early in the year, it was hard for players to envision this historic triumph.
The Eagles opened their season 6-4-3, prompting Smith to redefine the team’s goals.
"We made a few changes formation and positionally, but the girls also got their heads in it, realized they needed to put the work in and that they could be successful if they work really hard," said Smith.
From there, the Eagles won 11 of their last 12, and went out on top.
A dream finish for a season to remember.
"A sudden death win is one of the best things in the world," said Smith. "You can see the reaction in some of the pictures that we had of Casey’s face when she sees it went in, and the defenders from the opposing teams when they see it’s went in. That just sums it up, and you know the girls, they just went crazy. It was phenomenal. I was so, so happy for the girls.”
Athlete of the Week: John Merica
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