D-III girls soccer
Brussels finally gets the best of Rota
Aleeza Vitale of Brussels, right, heads the ball away from Rota's Diana Santana in the Division III finals at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships. Brussels took the title with a 2-1 win.
Stars and Stripes
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The final minutes of the Division III girls’ soccer championship game between Rota High School and Brussels American School Thursday were thrilling on both sides of the field.
With the clock winding down in regulation, Rota senior Thais Gartland-Bonet electrified her teammates and the team’s vocal fans sitting in the sun-baked bleachers at Ramstein High School when she scored the Admirals’ first goal. Itl tied the score 1-1 and gave the three-time defending European champs a shot at another title.
But a fourth crown was not to be; even before the din of the excitement from Rota’s last-minute score died down, the underdogs answered with a surprise goal in the final minute, and emerged with a 2-1 victory.
As Brussels sophomore Paige Brown’s free kick sailed towards the goal, junior forward Becca Harness and a Rota defender went up to head the ball. The ball ended up bouncing off the Rota player into the goal, the players on the field said, sending the Brigands into jubilation when the whistle blew and the game was over. Brussels had finally beaten Rota, its players using words such as “revenge” and “intense” to describe the sudden victory.
After losing to Rota twice this year - a 1-0 shutout earlier this year at Alconbury and a 2-1 defeat in Wednesday’s round robin - the victory could not have been sweeter, said Brussels senior stopper Hannah Sadler.
“Last year, we came to the same field and they beat us 1-0,” Sadler said. “It’s like we can redo the past, in a good way.”
Rota had its chances, making Brussels goal keeper Dominique Poitier work throughout the game. She ended up with 12 saves.
Standing in for Rota at goal was senior striker Yesenia Solis, who subbed throughout the tournament for team goalie Tiffani Driscoll, who was nursing 18 stitches from a recent injury, said Rota girls’ soccer head coach Clarice Brown.
“We had a week to train her,” Brown said of Solis. “She really stepped up to the plate.”
Solis, who plans to attend Glenville State College in West Virginia on a partial volleyball scholarship, said the loss was heartbreaking.
“I just feel upset because we worked so hard and it all just happened on a few minor mistakes,” she said.
Brown, the Rota coach, paid Brussels its due. “They played their game,” she said. “In our hearts, we’re still champs.”
Brussels girls’ soccer head coach Jacob Myers said “every single one (of his players) played great,” but he gave extra praise to three seniors, forward and captain Alexandra McVicker, Sadler, and Poitier.
“I think our girls just left everything on the field,” he said.
McVicker, who plans to play club soccer at Texas Christian University, said it was “an amazing feeling to leave the team with this win, especially to Rota. We came out here and showed them we can play our game and beat them.”