The Spring Mills Lady Cardinals faced off against the Jefferson Cougars in a highly anticipated soccer rematch which ultimately ended in a 1-1 tie on Sept. 28 at Cardinals stadium. Both varsity soccer teams walked onto the field with 8-1 records for the season.
The Cardinals only loss was against the Cougars in a previous match. Tensions were high as the sun set behind the bleachers, enveloping the players and spectators in a blanket of harsh brightness cast by the stadium lights. Dozens of fans from both sides filled the stands. This was the last meeting of the two teams during regulation play, and therefore, a defining moment for the rest of the season.
Previously, the two teams have had dominating seasons. The best in history so far for the Lady Cardinals who were on a 6-game win streak that came to an agonizing end on Sept. 16 when the Cardinals fell to the Cougars in a 3-0 loss. Following the crushing defeat, the Cardinals went on to have 15-0 and 13-0 wins against Berkeley Springs and St. James respectively, scores virtually unheard of in the game of soccer.
The Cougars began their season with a loss in their first game against out-of-conference opponent University High School. Following the dreary opener, the Cougars were on an 8-game win streak which ultimately ended this night.
As the whistle blew to begin the match, fans held their breath. The Cougars struck first, no doubt anticipating another quick victory based on the previous match between these teams. In the 17th minute of the game, the Jefferson fans erupted into applause as the Cougars sent the ball flying into the back of the net to make the score Jefferson 1, Spring Mills 0. The Cougars kept this lead as the teams went into halftime without another goal.
After a quick regrouping, 20 minutes elapsed in the second half as the ball flew back and forth between both sides of the field. Suddenly, a Cougar player slammed into the back of unsuspecting Spring Mills player Samantha Baxter, leaving the Cardinals with a penalty kick in prime position.
Positioned right outside of the 18-yard box, Baxter lined up to take her kick. The referee positioned the Jefferson players, who were in a protective wall formation, 10 yards away from where the kick was to be done. Baxter began to back up and take her kick while her mom said, “She’s going left. This will be interesting.”
Baxter did indeed aim her shot left, and this time it was the Spring Mills crowd erupting into cheers as the scoreboard changed to 1-1. Baxter had aimed the ball perfectly in the top left corner of the net, right past the wall of players and open hands of the Jefferson goalkeeper.
The remaining 20 minutes of the game left both teams frustrated as neither team was able to land anymore shots in the net. Frantic Jefferson fans in the stands said, “Jefferson is supposed to be awesome! What is happening?” An uncharacteristic collision between two players on the Jefferson team sent their goalkeeper, senior Leila Mallamas, out on injury with 8 minutes remaining in the match.
The referee’s whistle brought the game to a close as the crowd erupted into a round of applause for both teams on a well-played game. While the Spring Mills Cardinals are left feeling confident about the score having previously lost to the team, the Jefferson Cougars are left to face the reality of their winning streak coming to an end.
The two teams are not set to face each other again during regular season play, leaving the top division seed open as both teams now have 8-1-1 records. This match was perhaps a glimpse into the future as it is quite likely the teams will face off again during sectional play. Both teams have defeated all the other teams in the section this season already. The season comes to an end on Oct. 14. Only after then will it be determined whether these two teams will meet again.