There were no words girls soccer coach Tom Iffrig could give his players for the heartache they felt after Saturday night’s controversial 2-1 loss to No. 1-ranked Cor Jesu Academy, in a Class 3 state quarterfinal game at
The Pirates had played a magnificent game against the top-ranked Chargers, and thought they had tied it at 2, with 11 minutes left, when senior Mikala McGhee fired a dynamite throw-in pass toward the Cor Jesu net that somehow wound up in the net and set off a frenzied celebration by the Pattonville team and fans.
But while Pattonville celebrated, the officials congregated to make sure they’d each seen the same thing, and that the goal scored was indeed a legal play.
Unfortunately for Pattonville, after a long discussion, the officials ruled the ball went into the net without being touched by any player, which is not a legal play, so the goal was disallowed.
The lucky break left Cor Jesu relieved, while the Pattonville contingent was clearly dismayed.
“I just feel so bad for our girls,” Iffrig said. “They played so hard, and it looked like a good play. I know that ball hit somebody. It might have been one of our girls, or maybe one of theirs, but the ball hit somebody.
“I just don’t know how the linesman, who was some 50 yards away, could make that call, while the referee was right there and didn’t make a call at all.”
Cor Jesu, led by senior goalkeeper Sam Bersett, was then able to hold off a tremendous last-minute charge by Pattonville, which included a heart-stopping point-blank save by Bersett with two minutes left, to close out a victory that will send the Chargers to the MSHSAA Class 3 state soccer championships in suburban Kansas City next weekend.
“This is what we’ve talked about from day one,” Bruno said. “I think we’re all looking forward to making that trip up I-70 next week. “Tonight was such a battle, no question. Pattonville’s a strong team with a lot of speed up top. We knew we had to do a lot of things well to win.”
One of those things, was to get on the scoreboard first, which Cor Jesu did early in the first half, when senior Jenn Miller found sophomore teammate Mia Zanaboni for a score that gave the Chargers a 1-0 lead.
Pattonville answered right back 46 seconds later, when Sammie Bauer was the first to get to the ball, after a mad scramble in front of the net following another terrific throw-in by McGhee.
Bauer slammed a shot past Bersett, for her sixth goal of the year, to make it 1-1.
The score stayed that way until midway through the second half, when Cor Jesu’s Miller made another brilliant play to help give her team the lead.
The senior forward, who had given Pattonville fits all night, somehow beat two Pirate defenders and found teammate Erin McGauley streaking down the right sideline.
McGauley then lifted a crossing pass through the box that teammate Jenny Antonacci smacked past Pattonville’s Kayla Benoit, for what proved to be the game-winning score.
“Erin made the run down the right side, and made a perfect cross,” Antonacci said. “I was lucky enough to put it in. It just felt amazing.”
Pattonville finished its year with a 21-6 record, but that mark only tells part of the story for a remarkable senior class of players that made the state championships two years in a row and won its district title four years in a row.
“I just love our seniors,” Iffrig said, of the departing Pattonville graduates McGhee, Aubrey Boulicault, Mindy Fitterling, Kimmie Hulse, Kacie Hulse, Mariah Null, and Kailey Utley.
“These girls were just a special group of kids to be around for four years. I’m really going to miss not having them around here. I‘m just so proud of what these young ladies have done.”