STRONGSVILLE—Chagrin Falls’ path to Saturday’s state championship game was littered with teams the Tigers played in the regular season, leading co-head coaches Pamela Malone and Joe Ciuni to dub the postseason, “The Revenge Tour.”
The Tigers, who punched their ticket to the state title game by beating Rocky River 3-2 at Pat Catan Stadium on Tuesday, had lost to the Pirates in the regular season, 2-0, and had tied two other postseason opponents in Kenston and West Geauga.
“Joe had nicknamed this the Revenge Tour because we had tied Kenston and we had tied West Geauga and our lone (Division II) loss was to Rocky River,” Malone said. “To take care of those three times, when we thought we should have done it the first time, is awesome and that’s what motivated us.”
Elana McGinnis set the tone for the Tigers early as she scored twice in the first half, with the first coming off a Kate Bartlett corner kick just one minute and 15 seconds into the match.
Her second goal came off of a Sarah Burgess pass midway through the first half and gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
“We call it First Blood, from Rambo,” Malone said of the early lead. “We have scored first blood in all of our games except our loss to Avon, our loss to North Ridgeville, and our loss to Rocky River, and so it was really important that we got that first goal because then you know the other team is thinking, well, we have to have two goals in order to win. But, you can only score one goal at a time, so that’s just a great mental advantage to have scored first blood.”
Rocky River responded with an Ava Patti goal with just over 11 minutes remaining in the half and added a second goal 10 minutes into the second to tie the match at 2-2.
“To have that 2-0 lead was huge then to give it up and still be able to respond to this team, Rocky River was a great team and that is a potent attacking offense,” Ciuni said. “All six of their players can score and all can dribble and we were able to hold them off, luckily, after we got our lead back, 3-2.”
The Tigers took the lead for good when Bartlett converted a penalty kick with 12 minutes, 22 seconds left in the game.
McGinnis was brought down in the box to set up the PK but the Tigers knew they wanted Bartlett on the line in that moment.
“She said she thrives on the pressure of those PK spots, so she is our PK taker in games if we get that call during the flow of the game,” Ciuni said.
With the win, the Tigers improved to 17-3-2 overall and will play Cincinnati Wyoming for the state title at Lower.com Field in Columbus on Saturday for the state title.
Chagrin Falls is now 3-5 in seven state Final Four appearances and looks to improve to 2-1 in the state finals. The Tigers won the state title in 1996 and finished second in 2016.
Wyoming (12-3-3) is making its first state championship game appearance.