Region soccer: Wesley Chapel 4, Hudson 3
HUDSON – For the second time in three games, it took a late effort by Wesley Chapel to emerge with the win, but the Wildcats showed their heart by continuing to fight.
Earning the first state playoff victory in school history, Wesley Chapel emerged with a 4-3 win on Thursday night at Hudson despite being down two goals at halftime.
“It took 40 minutes of hard work and everything they had (in the second half),” Wesley Chapel coach Michelle Clark said. “They did not want the season to end.”
In the district semifinals, the Wildcats (16-4-2) needed a goal with less than three minutes remaining to stamp their ticket to the region playoffs. That determination showed again against the Cobras (12-8-1).
The Cobras came in having won seven in a row, including six shutout victories, but Wesley Chapel dispatched that possibility less than nine minutes into action. A corner kick by Lauren Campoe was headed in perfectly by Victoria Mitchell to start the scoring.
Hudson’s answer came only a minute later. A free kick by Cassidy Rux (eight goals) was lofted just over Wesley Chapel keeper Samantha Gasbarro’s head and into the back of the net to tie it up.
Sierra Grzyb gave the Cobras their first lead at the midway mark of the first half. Streaking down the near side, the sophomore forward faced a 1-on-2 break against the Wesley Chapel defense, but it was Grzyb who got the better of the battle before rolling one past Gasbarro (one save) to make it 2-1.
Grzyb (seven goals) drilled home her second goal of the night with five minutes left in the first half. A long pass by Brittany Cirnigliaro gave Grzyb a step on the defense before she lined a goal just inside post past Gasbarro for the 3-1 lead. That score held up until halftime.
The emotion at halftime was raw for Wesley Chapel. There was plenty to say from both the coaches and senior leaders.
“What happens at halftime, stays at halftime,” Clark joked. “All I can say is that it lit a fire under them.”
Whatever was said seemed to help. Wesley Chapel got right back into the game with a quick goal from Mitchell (35 goals). The Wildcats’ leading scorer struck for the second time with a shot to the right corner.
With regulation winding down, Wesley Chapel was not done. Both seniors, Campoe (five goals) and Bailey Hern (33 goals), notched scramble goals in the box with less than eight minutes left. It was Hern’s shot that proved to be the winner with only four minutes remaining.
“I just kept telling myself not to miss high,” Herns said. “Once it went in, it felt amazing.”
The Wildcats will now host Land O’Lakes for the region semifinals on Tuesday night.
“We’re going to be ready,” Clark said. “Those stands will be packed.”