INDIANAPOLIS – It could have been a devastating swing for the Class 3A No. 14 Zionsville girls soccer team on Saturday night.
Tied 1-1 with Class 2A No. 2 and defending 2A state champion Cathedral, the Eagles missed a point-blank opportunity to go up 2-1 with 33 minutes left in the game.
Just 90 seconds later, Cathedral scored off a corner kick to make it 2-1 and put the Eagles behind for the first time all night.
But rather than sulk about the missed opportunity, the Eagles bounced back, getting goals from Sydney Calisto and Abbey Iler in the final 22 minutes to win their seventh-straight game, 3-2 over the Irish.
“It was a tough 90-second swing, when it looks like we are going to go up 2-1, to being down 2-1,” Zionsville head coach Ramon Aguillon said. “But we just keep pushing, and we have been asking the girls all year, ‘in adverse situations, how do you want to react?’ This was the response we were looking for.”
Aguillon said coming back to win the game in the way they did showed the character of the team that they have been trying to build all year.
After going down a goal, the Eagles dominated the last 30 minutes of the game, creating numerous chances to score and only allowing a couple of serious chances on counter attacks.
“I am really proud of the girls,” Aguillon said. “Down 2-1 against a team like Cathedral, it is a huge mountain to climb, scoring two goals in the second half. This is a tough place to win, and this really shows the character of the team.”
The Eagles scored with 18 minutes left in the first half, when Calen Hammerle’s free kick was sent into a scrum in the box, and Calisto poked it in to make it 1-0.
The Irish came back to tie the game in the final minute of the first half.
After the back-and-forth 90-second stretch gave the Irish the lead, the Eagles started the comeback.
With 25 minutes remaining, Zionsville nearly tied the game, but a cross through the six-yard box wasn’t converted.
When the Eagles got another opportunity a few minutes later, they didn’t miss.
Iler beat her defender down the right sideline, drew a couple of defenders and crossed to a wide open Calisto on the back post, who finished the cross for her second goal in the game.
Aguillon said those far-post runs from the midfield is something the team has been working on.
“Because our forwards do such a great job of attracting defenders, it opens things up on the back post,” Aguillon said. “That is something that we have been working on a lot, those back-post runs. Because we know if we can get to the line, the ball is going to get there, and then we can just tap it in.”
Just seven minutes later, the Eagles took the lead on a mirror image of the second goal.
This time it was Lizzie Chlystun beating her defender on the left-side, and crossing it to Iler on the back post.
The sophomore buried her header, giving the Eagles the lead with 14:45 to go.
“When you watch Abbey Iler, when you have that level of speed and ability to take someone on, she just creates opportunities,” Aguillon said. “She created the second goal, then that was a big-time header goal. That was a beautiful cross from Lizzie and it was an absolutely perfect finish. To be able to have both those girls on the outside, it helps create so many chances.”
From there it was up to the Zionsville defense, and they held strong.
Adelyn Busald made two big saves in the final 10 minutes, stopping a 1-v-1, and then calmly catching a shot through traffic with less than five minutes to play.
Aguillon said after the Irish’s second goal, the Eagles did a good job of shutting down Cathedral.
“We knew Cathedral was really, really good on set pieces,” Aguillon said. “After that second goal, I think we were able to regroup a little bit. Adelyn came up big, and made two really good saves at the end and our defenders did a good job of making their shots more difficult.”
Things don’t get easier down the stretch for the Eagles.
Zionsville has six games remaining, all against ranked opponents. Four of the six are against teams currently ranked in the top-4 of their class.
“We have a tough stretch to end it,” Aguillon said. “We have Noblesville and Avon next week, then still have Brebeuf, HSE, Carmel and Brownsburg. We can’t worry about the results, we just have to focus on the way we play so that we are ready to go in the post-season.”