Monday, July 15, 2024

Oak Park girls soccer gives up late goal, loses to Apple Valley in Division 3 championship game

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OAK PARK — The stakes could not have been higher for the Oak Park girls soccer team.

After surviving the treacherous journey of going through the wild-card round to start the postseason, the Eagles had a chance to win the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title Friday night at Oak Park High School.

But their title hopes slipped away in the most crucial of moments and the Eagles lost to Apple Valley 2-1 in the Division 3 final Friday at Oak Park High.

“Next up is state so we’ve got to keep playing the way we’ve been playing,” said Oak Park head coach Kathryn Klamecki. “That’s really the biggest takeaway from this moving forward. Hats off to Apple Valley. They are a really good team.”

After a slow start, the game turned into an instant classic as both teams tried to prove they were worthy of hoisting the championship plaque.

The first half showed suffocating defense from both teams. Despite the Sun Devils dominating possession with eight first-half shots at goal to the Eagles’ three, the game was a scoreless tie at halftime.

Eagles senior goalkeeper Ainsley Gove recorded five of her 11 saves in the first half. The Sun Devils ended the game with four saves.

Early in the second half, the Sun Devils netted a goal on a 15-yard strike from freshman forward Jadyn Bechtel.

Oak Park senior striker Macie Baird tied the contest at 1-1 with a 40-yard moonshot with 12 minutes left in regulation.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, Baird exited the game soon after with a calf injury and did not return.

“Going down and getting the equalizer was really big for us,” said Klamecki. “The team showed a lot of heart and I really liked the way they played until the end. Macie going down was a bummer but overall I’m so proud of them.”

With the score tied at 1-1 and less than two minutes left to go, it appeared the game could go into extra time.

However, the Sun Devils made an incredible play off a corner kick to take a 2-1 lead and they were soon celebrating their championship victory.

The Eagles will get another chance at glory in the state playoffs.

“The biggest thing about this entire postseason run is we are playing for each other,” said Klamecki. “This group has been bonded and their chemistry is so good. We brought together the community and this is bigger than us. That’s what we have been talking about. Providing this game for the community and school and there’s really nothing more you can ask for at the end of the day.”

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