By Dante Quazzo
Every player dreams of hitting the last-minute shot to win the game.
For Bay School senior Madeline Spolin, that dream came true in the Bay Counties League Central girls soccer semifinals Tuesday at Crocker Amazon.
With the game tied 2-2 and time winding down, Bay’s Bayley McMillan broke free down the sideline and executed a crossing pass to Spolin, who sent the ball into the net to give Bay the lead in the 79th minute.
A few moments later, the whistle sounded.
“[The goal] was the epitome of what we as a team have worked for,” Spolin said. “It was an assist from Bayley [McMillan], my teammate, and it comes from a lot of hard work.”
The 3-2 victory over Gateway (8-6-1) marked the third time the Breakers (11-7-1) have triumphed over the Gators this season. The Breakers will advance to the championship game against International on Thursday.
While Spolin’s goal was certainly the highlight of the afternoon, there was plenty of action to go around. The Breakers opened up the scoring in the fourth minute when Veronica Stamats curved in a corner kick.
Gateway would respond in the 13th minute when sophomore Iris Clavel connected from the top of the box, knotting the score at 1-1.
Just moments later, in the 17th minute, Bay scored again off a corner kick. Stamats lobbed the ball into the box and when the ball bounced off a Gateway defender, Bay’s Karis Kirchgestner was there to knock it in.
“We do a lot of set play work,” said Bay co-head coach Matt Hannibal. “At this point in the season, you hope that all the work that we put in pays off and it did with those two goals.”
Bay went into halftime with a 2-1 lead, but Gateway exploded out of the break with a goal in the 41st minute. Clavel lobbed a corner kick into the box, where teammate Melanie Choi poked the ball in between the posts, shifting momentum toward the Gators.
“In the first half we played a little conservative,” said Gateway head coach Joe Killmaier. “In the second half I told them, ‘We have to go win it. Now it’s time to win it.’ It was a good game, and they did a really good job.”
Both teams played tough, but only the Breakers will advance to the championship game against International on Thursday.
“It was an incredibly close game. Gateway put up a really tough fight,” Hannibal added.
International 6, Waldorf 0
Waldorf (6-7-1) came out flat as International (17-3-2) dominated from the outset, and was not challenged in its bid for the BCL Central championship game. Bianca Woodard fueled the Jaguars’ attack with three goals, while keeper Emilia Omerberg recorded a shutout in goal. The Jaguars will face Bay in the title game Thursday.