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Spring hat trick gives Allegany-Limestone first outright girls soccer state title

By Perry L. Novak
Special to The News

HOMER – It is said that hope springs eternal. For Allegany-Limestone’s girls soccer team it was more like Spring makes hope eternal.

Sunday afternoon saw Alyssa Spring score a hat trick to lead the Gators to their first outright state title. The sophomore tied the game in the first half with an unassisted goal then sandwiched penalty kicks around a Stillwater goal to give A-L a 3-2 victory in the 2017 Class C final.

“It’s amazing to win,” Spring said with an understandably huge smile afterward. “It was a tough game, and they were very aggressive.”

Stillwater’s Keelyn Peacock scored on a direct kick in the 14th minute to set the tone for the first half.

“When they scored first, I was nervous,” Spring said. “Then we got the momentum.”

Peacock scored on a 30-yard direct kick and she had another good chance on a direct kick in the 24th minute. That one was stopped by Tierney Hemphill. Moments later, Stillwater’s Kate McEvoy was injured and could not return and the Gators took the momentum for the rest of the half.

Molly McClelland had A-L’s first good shot stopped by Stillwater goalie Kiersten Conroy in the 31st minute. Two minutes later the Gators scored. Spring passed to senior forward Hallie Domes, but she also was denied by Conroy. The freshman made another save after losing the rebound, but Spring battled for the ball and kicked it in to make it 1-1 in the 33rd minute.

Play was mostly at midfield the rest of the first half and at the start of the second. In the 51st minute, Domes made a great pass to Spring, which led to the sophomore being taken down in the box. Spring kept her string of making all her PKs this season intact. She booted a hard shot to the lower left for a 2-1 A-L lead.

The joy was short-lived. Seventy-two seconds later, Stillwater tied it 2-2. Peacock had a 25-yard direct kick that forced Hemphill to make a diving save on. Teya Staie easily knocked in the rebound.

The teams took turns threatening over the next few minutes. McClelland and Spring had some good chances but could not score, then Stillwater’s Brook Pickett and Devon Wagner had a 2-on-1 break. A-L’s Molly Wolfgang made a superb defensive play to deny them a shot in the 61st minute.

The Gators regained the momentum on two chances by Grace DeCapua then McClelland made a great run in the box in the 68th minute. She was taken down and Spring followed with her second PK goal of the game.

“The second one I was more nervous on,” the sophomore admitted afterward.

Stillwater had no good chances the rest of the way and the large A-L following - including many alums - erupted in cheers along with the team.

“It gets you,” an emotional coach Dale MacArthur said of seeing so many people, especially former players from title teams, in the stands. “It was incredible. It’s what you coach for.”

It was a good run by Stillwater to reach the title game. The 2017 season produced the program’s third section title and first trip to the finals.

“I thought they played their hearts out,” Stillwater’s fifth-year coach Christine Ihnatolya said. “We worked together. I couldn’t be more proud of their effort.”

MacArthur was equally proud.

“I knew it was in them,” he said. “You’ve got to be healthy, get a bounce and you’ve got to be together. It’s a good feeling.”

It was the second state championship for the Gators. They shared the crown in 2002 with Watertown IHC.

Allegany-Limestone girls soccer heading to state title game

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