Wiesbaden regains title by downing Naples
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – The Wiesbaden Warriors on Thursday made good on the lofty goal they set at the start of the season - to bring home the DODEA-Europe Division I girls’ soccer championship.
In warm conditions on the artificial grass at the Kaiserslautern High School soccer field, the second-seed Warriors shut out the Naples Wildcats 2-0 to win their second Division I title in three years. Last year, the Warriors finished fourth in the tournament.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” said Wiesbaden senior sweeper Gracie Reeves of the win. “This is what I looked forward to all year long.
“Every single practice, every single game, we put in the work: We said this is one step closer to the championship. It was our goal and we fought for it.”
The Warriors battled their way into the finals with a tense, double-overtime win in the semifinals Wednesday against the defending champs Stuttgart Panthers. The third-seeded Wildcats – in the hunt for their first girls’ soccer Division I title since moving to the large-schools bracket five years ago - earned their spot in the title game with a 3-0 shutout of Kaiserslautern.
In Thursday’s match, the Warriors gained the advantage early when sophomore forward Jade Anderson scored less than 10 minutes into the first half.
The score would stay that way until more than half way into the second half, when at about the 25-minute mark, junior forward Erin Goodman had an open shot at goal and drove the ball over the Naples goalkeeper as she came out of the cage and tried to beat Goodman to the ball.
“I knew I could beat the keeper because I was just faster and just hit it,” Goodman said.
Another goal by Goodman was called back by the line referee, who ruled the ball went out of bounds before curving back into the net.
Goodman, who was on the Warriors’ 2017 championship team, said this year’s squad was special. “We’re a family,” she said. “We always say that, that’s how we end every practice – ’18 strong, family’ – because that’s what we are.”
Wiesbaden coach Nicole Angel said her team played with heart and grit. “They never gave up,” she said. “I’m just so incredibly proud of them.”
For Naples, a Division 1 girls’ soccer crown will have to wait for another year.
After six tough games of soccer this week, the Wildcats were worn out, said senior midfielder Victoria Sasse.
“It was a very physical, tiring game,” she said of the finals. “We just gave everything that we had left.”
Sasse said it was frustrating to see so many of Naples’ shots on goal fall short or wide - or into the hands of Wiesbaden goalie Karli Wallace.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way,” she said.
Naples coach Kenny Byler highlighted the play of two of his senior defenders, Thalia Galindo and Genesis Torrent – Galindo for her control of the ball at mid field and Torrent for saving a would-be goal when she backfilled for the goalkeeper on a play.
His team, he said, did a good job passing and moving the ball. “We just didn’t find the back of the net,” he said.