Blazer elders shine in 2-1, double-OT victory over Wildcats
OCT 13, BLAZER STADIUM-
Last year's senior night ended in tears after a tightly played 1-0 loss to Churchill. This year's seniors wanted no repeat, and they lived up to their goal with a wild 2-1 win over Walter Johnson. The girls played the best game they have all season by far, and beat one of the county's top teams in double-sudden-death-overtime.
The Blazers have underachieved all season. Flashes of brilliance have appeared now and a again, and the Blazers have certainly been a clutch team, consistently stepping up their play in the final minutes. But tonight was a totally different story. Those flashes of brilliance finally became the consistently excellent play the team knew it could put out as the Blazers fought hard for the whole game on both ends of the field.
The defense was outstanding, stopping Wildcat attacks again and again, and the forwards and midfielders kept the pressure on WJ's backs with a fierceness that has not always been there this season. Everyone played well for the Blazers tonight, but the seniors deserve special credit for going all-out in their final home appearance.
After the game, Coach Robert Gibb said a few words to the mass of fans who had assembled to congratulate the team about how privileged he felt to guide such an incredible group of players. He then thanked his nine seniors (though Cynthia LeFevre was at home with mononucleosis) in turn and presented them all with red and white roses. He saved his last roses for star goalkeeper and co-captain Erika Pelz-Butler, then led the stands in a cheer that has become a staple of the Blazer cheering secton: "Holy shmoly, what a goalie!"
Walter Johnson struck first, with a one-timer off a beautiful cross that the defense could not have done much about. Blair came back with a drive by senior Julia Gabriel early in the second half that rebounded off a pair of Wildcat defenders into the net. From then until the end of regulation the game was deadlocked, and a sudden-death overtime was called for.
In the first OT, neither team could gain an edge. Both defenses were brick walls, and despite numerous breakaways the score remained tied after ten additional minutes. That tie lasted most of the way through the second overtime as well, until a spectacular cross from senior Becca Feiden found senior forward Amy Ernst. Ernst touched the ball once, twice and buried a ground shot just past the outstretched hands of WJ's diving keeper.
The stands erupted with cheers and Blair's players mobbed Ernst in celebration after the breathtaking finish. Capitalizing on breakaways has been a problem all season for the Blazers, so it was all the more fitting that the seniors' last home game should end with a beautiful breakway finish by a pair of seniors.
"That last goal was one of those where you just say, 'Oh please, please let that go in,'" said a beaming Gibb after his thank yous to the players. "I told the girls, kind of jokingly, before the game, that we should try to make it exciting. I guess they took me seriously."
A notable presence at Blazer Stadium today was the entire Gabriel clan. Julia Gabriel played one of her best games of the year on the field, while sisters Alexa and Megan first sang the national anthem and then led the crowd in cheers throughout the match. Gabriel father Tom took on the role of announcer, often producing some awesome cheers himself. And mother Cassie shouted cheerfully with the fans alongside her daughters.
Blair's next game is Oct 17 at Churchill at 7 p.m. The team needs all the help it can get to keep its momentum going through the end of the season and playoffs, so go out and support your Blazers!
Luke Bostian. Luke Bostian is a senior in CAP and has nothing much to say for himself. Well, actually, that's a lie. Luke has a lot to say for himself and says it all the time. So he won't bore you with it. Suffice it to say … More »