When St. Paul’s School scored back-to-back goals within a minute of the second half of Thursday’s IAAM B Conference indoor soccer championship game, Garrison Forest School was staggered. Doubt began creeping in.
But the Grizzlies haven’t won consecutive crowns because of a lack of confidence. The Owings Mills school regrouped to post a 5-4 come-from-behind decision over the Gators at Clarence DuBurns Arena in Canton.
Freshman forward Madison McCann scored with 1 minute, 48 seconds remaining in regulation, giving the Grizzlies a three-peat. Senior forward Chloe Tomlinson and sophomore midfielder Kamber Parker scored twice for Garrison Forest (10-1 overall).
In winning its third straight title, Garrison Forest joins Institute of Notre Dame as the only programs to accomplish the feat. IND won five consecutive A crowns from 2001-02 through 2005-06 campaigns.
In a back-and-forth contest, Garrison Forest had the final momentum swing with two goals in the final three minutes. Grizzlies coach Bill Tarlton said his team leaned hard on its championship experience down the stretch.
“We just found something deep down,” said Tarlton. “Every time one team scored, the other came back and scored.”
“We just wanted to stay focused,” said Tomlinson. “We knew if we were more aggressive we could do it.”
Kamber, who scored twice in last year’s 5-4 title decision over Park School, took a Tomlinson pass on the left wing and placed a shot wide right pass Gator goalie Maria Stavrakis, tying the game at 4. McCann put a right-footed shot inside the box by Stavrakis for the decisive score.
“I just stuck my foot out when the ball was coming and shot it in. It was just amazing, I didn’t even expect it to go in,” said McCann. “We played hard and kept it up the whole game.”
The Grizzlies caught a break when Stavrakis went out of position, and Tomlinson beat a pair of St. Paul’s defenders in the center of the box for a loose ball and sent into an open goal for a 3-2 advantage with 14 minutes remaining in the regulation. The Gators (8-2-1) surged ahead as Sarah Hefner put a left-footed lazer from about 20 yards in the left corner with 12:25 left, and followed with a through pass that Nevi Fernandez got past a charging Garrison Forest goalie Jena Lafferty 50 seconds later.
“I was really shaken up right after the second goal, but I really believe in this team so much and knew we could do it,” said Lyketsos, who suffered a mild concussion in the final seconds of last year’s final and was transported by ambulance to Bayview Medical Center as a precaution. “I never lost faith and the team never lost faith.”
St. Paul’s coach Don Keener saw his team fall short for the second time this season against Grizzlies. Playing at full strength, Keener was proud of his team’s effort.
“They saw us at our best and they still came out on top,” said Keener, who got scores for Eliza Clark and freshman Tiffany McKee. “I was actually surprised seven goals were scored in the second half. You have to give it to them, the one thing they’ve shown all season is an ability to score.”
With only three players graduating, Garrison Forest appears to set for another title run next season. Tarlton said unselfishness has been the secret to success.
“We actually got off to a bad start, we were in third and fourth place for a while,” said Grizzlies coach Bill Tarlton. “But every game we got better and better and that’s been our hallmark the last three years-playing as a team.”
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IAAM B Conference Indoor Soccer Championship
at DuBurns Arena
Garrison Forest School 5, St. Paul’s School 4
St. Paul’s-Clark, McKee, Hefner, Fernandez; Garrison Forest-Kamber 2, Tomlinson 2, McCann.