Top team tumbles in quarterfinals

Nov. 8, 2002, midnight | By Nora Toiv | 20 years, 1 month ago

Churchill defeats the girls' soccer team on penalty kick in final 30 seconds of playoff game

Blair, the county's top-seeded girls' soccer team, ended its eight-game undefeated streak in a 1-0 loss to Churchill High School. The second-round playoff loss was a finale to an incredible season.

In their first game since the regular season was interrupted by the sniper attacks, the girls played a mostly even game against Churchill. The play was aggressive and intense, and the game remained tied until a foul was called against Blair in the last 30 seconds. Churchill scored on a penalty shot to end the game.

Coach Bob Gibb was tearful as he congratulated his girls on a fantastic season. "It has been a privilege to coach such a great group of girls," he said.

Gibb was very unhappy with the deciding foul called on senior co-captain Sara Achrati. "That's sports," Gibb said. "Sometimes it doesn't go the way it should."

Senior co-captains Beccah Bernard and Jennie Breads, as well as junior Jamie Kovach, performed admirably against Churchill. The game was highlighted by passion, slide tackles, slips and mud in the cold of Halloween night.

After the Blazers beat powerhouse Sherwood High School on Sept 29, junior goalie Erika Pelz-Butler realized her team was going to perform well this year. "I knew we had a really good team, one of the best in the county," she said, adding that she did not expect such an abrupt end to the season.

The girls were particularly affected by the cancellation of outdoor activities in the county because of their undefeated streak. With a 7-0-1 record going into the playoffs, Blair never faced Whitman High School, a top area team. The Whitman game was postponed and eventually canceled, but the girls kept up indoor practices until outdoor activities resumed.

Gibb told the girls that their outstanding season put Blair on the map and that they will be considered one of the best teams in the region next year. "We can play and beat anyone in this county," Gibb said. "This is the best team Blair has ever had."

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