Naples girls get last word against Aviano
BAUMHOLDER, Germany – As the Naples girls soccer team celebrated Saturday afternoon, Laura Thompson put her team’s Division III championship into perspective.
“It was just a victory that was meant to be,” said Thompson, a senior co-captain. “It made up for all the frustration we had with this team all year.”
Until Naples defeated Aviano 4-1 in the final, Aviano had its number all season.
Aviano beat Naples 2–1 in overtime April 26 at Naples, then beat it again in the Mediterranean regional final, 4-3, in a sudden death penalty kick shootout.
Saturday didn’t begin propitiously for Naples. Earlier tournament games had taken their toll on the team.
“We are the walking wounded,” Naples coach Gloria Krum said just before the final. “We’ve got a bench of two … and we are going to this game all on courage.” At halftime, several Naples players held ice packs to injuries.
In the first 20 minutes, Aviano controlled the ball, pounding the Naples defense. Aviano star Jessi Campfield was relentless, eluding defenders for several shots.
If spectators believed Aviano was on its way to a sweep, they couldn’t be blamed. “I did too,” Aviano coach Pam Hillestad said after the game.
But Naples held. Ten minutes into the game, Naples goalkeeper Alex Petrucci had five saves. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, momentum changed to Naples as forward Katrina Durden started putting pressure on Aviano’s goal.
About 25 minutes into the half, right halfback Christina Smith scored to give Naples a 1-0 lead.
Midway through the second half, Naples striker Michelle Aguila broke away on the dribble up the middle, was fouled and converted a penalty shot for a 2-0 lead. Minutes later, midfielder Gloria Bradshaw put in a rebound to put Naples up by 3.
Aviano’s Christen McCullough and Naples forward Laura Keating finished the scoring.
Krum gave Petrucci most of the credit for the victory.
How many saves did she have? “I stopped counting at 15,” Krum said. “You could put 18, and I’d say you’re probably close” to the final number.