Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Huskies win first playoff game in program history

Cardinal’s third-year girls’ soccer program has established many first this season and on Monday the Huskies added another when they defeated Pymatuning Valley 2-1 in double overtime to record their first postseason win in school history.

The Huskies, who improved to 6-8-2 overall, have now won five of their last six games.

“These girls have come together over the past six games,” Cardinal assistant coach Brian Gallagher said. “These ladies have the heart and it was all them tonight fighting for this history-making win.”

Pymatuning Valley took a 1-0 lead in the first half but all that did was serve as a wakeup call for senior captain Sydney Spitler.

“She became a whole different player than I’ve seen,” Gallagher said. “She owned the defense and even scored off a corner ball.”

Spitler’s game-tying goal was set up from Audrey Avalon’s corner kick. The ball was served up in front of the net and ended up in front of Spitler, who finished it off.

“I was in a position where I could get a shot on goal, so I took it,” Spitler said. “I used the energy I got from my teammates to help me push through.”

The goal was the first of the season for Spitler.

“It was very exciting to win the first playoff game in our team’s history, especially for it being one of my final games as a Husky,” Spitler said. “Pushing for so many years to get this far, it really shows how much we have improved as a team. Going into to this game I knew I had to give it my all. Not only did I want this, but so did the other seniors. Being able to score my first goal of my senior year made it 100-better.”

Spitler’s goal tied the game but her effort on defense kept it that way until the second overtime period.

“Starting on defense has pushed me to become the best player that I could be because of the discipline,” she said. “Knowing that you are the only person in between the other team and your goalie really pushes me to stop whatever comes towards me. I couldn’t do it without my goalie, Kayla Valentine. The thought that constantly goes through my head is, how bad I don’t want my senior year to end on a bad note.”

Three years ago, senior Anna Blubaugh scored the game’s only goal to lead the Huskies to their first-ever win as a varsity program and on Monday it was Blubaugh that delivered the game clincher in double overtime.

Valentine, Cardinal’s senior keeper, dropkicked a ball out to senior Mya Revak who then sent a through ball to Blubaugh, who was crashing the goal with just under five minutes remaining in the second overtime.

“There was a lot of excitement and anticipation towards the end of the game and I kept visualizing getting that final goal, so being able to pull it off means the world to me,” Blubaugh said. “This game was immensely important and meaningful to me now that I’m a senior. To finish off the game with my goal and to leave my mark is extremely exciting and something I will always remember.”

Cardinal advanced to Thursday’s sectional championship game at top-seeded Kirtland.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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