CF Soccer Champs

It was party time for Chagrin Falls after senior midfielder Sarah Burgess scored the match-winning goal in a penalty kick shootout, allowing the Tigers to edge Wyoming 1-0 in the Division II State Cup last Friday afternoon at Field in Columbus.

It was going to take more than 110 minutes to settle this one.

After 80 minutes of regulation and two overtime periods, it was still a scoreless stalemate between the Chagrin Falls Tigers’ girls’ soccer team and Wyoming. It was going to come down to a penalty kick shootout.

The Cowboys scored twice on their first four kicks but Chagrin Falls converted all four of their first four attempts and clinched the Division II state title in a 1-0 victory over Wyoming last Friday afternoon at Field.

“That was a really exciting way to go out,” said Chagrin Falls’ senior goalkeeper Peyton Gellin. “I love penalty kicks as a goalkeeper. How could you not? I’m really proud of this team and could not have asked for a better way to leave this program.”

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead on the penalty kick shootout as senior goalkeeper Peyton Gellin lunged to her right to save a shot attempt by Cowboys’ senior defender/midfielder Natalie Lind.

Tigers’ junior defender Kate Bartlett buried one past Wyoming senior goalkeeper Sophie Crockett.

Cowboys’ sophomore midfielder/forward Allie Mouch faked out Gellin and shot it inside the right post to knot the score but junior forward Elana McGinnis pushed the Tigers ahead 2-1.

Gellin saved another shot and then scored on her own penalty kick to push the Tigers ahead 3-1.

After Wyoming cut it to 3-2,Tigers’ senior midfielder Sarah Burgess then slid it right past Crockett’s left to seal the victory.

“We’re definitely a different team during our penalty kicks,” said Burgess. “We always say we got them beforehand. We all made them and I’m very proud of us.”

It marked the end of a historic coaching career for co-coach Pamela Malone. After 26 years, she is stepping down from the coaching helm and turning the reigns over to Cuini. She finishes her Tigers’ coaching tenure by being the first female coach in the State of Ohio to record more than 300 victories.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “Most coaches, unless you are the state champion, finish their career with a loss and I’m one that’s going to finish with a win.”

The last time the Tigers won the state cup was during the 1996 season. According to co-coach Pamela Malone, she could see similarities between the 1996 championship team and this year’s state title team.

“I really liked the dynamics of this team,” she said. “This team gets along. In the dynamics of this group of girls, no one considers themselves a superstar. They all work for each other. This team just had a special something.”

Gellin and senior midfielder Sarah Burgess were the only two players with experience at the state tournament as they were on the 2018 team that advanced to the state Final Four.

According to co-coach Joe Cuini, the Tigers were ready for the moment.

“We saw early on we had the opportunity to reach this kind of game,” he said. “This was our potential and we reached it. It was all about making sure that the girls were mentally calm and stable and didn’t read into things too much and get overly anxious or excited.”

The Tigers (18-2-3) came out with an aggressive approach in the first half but Wyoming’s defense countered it. The Cowboys expected Chagrin Falls to use its transition game to open up its offense.

“We heard from before they were going to attack on the outside and make their way in,” said Wyoming senior goalkeeper Sophie Crockett. “They did have a few chances on the outside but we really did not give them much in the middle. They couldn’t make it past the outside and they had a few opportunities but they weren’t as dangerous in those situations.

The Cowboys spent most of the first half defending their side of the field but turned the tables on Chagrin Falls in the second half. Wyoming coach Sami Rutowski said all the Cowboys really did was become more comfortable.

Having turned in four clean sheets over the last six contests, Wyoming’s defense lived up to its billing.

The Tigers’ bent but did not break as Gellin tallied three saves in the second half. Primarily a forward, she turned in the best defensive game of her four-year career at Chagrin Falls.

Once the match went into overtime, the Cowboys turned up the pressure and generated seven shots at the net. Gellin made a number of athletic saves and totaled four saves in bot overtime periods to send it to a shootout. She recorded ten saves during the match.

“Peyton was the player of the match,” said Malone. “She kept us in the game. She demonstrated selflessness the entire season by doing what the team needed most. The way she could best apply her talents was in goal and she did it even though she’s a 20-goal scorer.”

After 110 minutes, the Chagrin Falls’ goalkeeper still had plenty of fuel in the tank and collected two more saves to propel her team to the state title.

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