NILES – A district title will always suffice, but consecutive crowns are twice as good.
For South Range, Thursday night’s Division III district title showdown against rival Crestview presented a new challenge, as a young Rebels side with plenty of offensive firepower wasn’t going to let their season end without breaking down. to beat.
Just because the Raiders were the seed and Crestview was seeded ninth, it meant nothing once the game started.
Once the dust settled, there was a football player who responded with the most vigor.
Dribbling down the field and shooting just inside the 20-yard line on the football field, South Range junior Gabby Lampparty backpedaled and watched after taking a deep shot.
As time passed at Niles’ Bo Rein Stadium, Lampparty kept watching, then as the ball crossed the net let out a sea of punches and glee.
Almost as if frozen in time, the clock stuck at 11:08 am when the celebration began and South Range had found a way to overcome adversity and defeat Crestview for a 5-4 overtime victory.
“I didn’t expect the last one to come in but it’s an amazing team and I’m very proud of my teammates,” Lampparty said with nothing but smiles. “I was honestly shocked (on the last goal), I was looking at him, then he came in, and I was so excited.”
Leading at halftime 2-1, in part thanks to a pair of first-half goals on sophomore Devin Sauerwein, the Raiders kept control of the game for most of the first half. and increased to two goals when Lamparty converted a free kick from over 20 yards with 30 minutes left.
The Rebels came to life midway through the second half, when elder Maci Shaffer, one of the state’s top scorers this season, cut a pair of Raider defenders to score. Sophomore Bailey Wonner scored the equalizer for Crestview less than a minute later.
Fighting defense again, Shaffer showed she is one of the region’s most beloved players by scoring once again to give Crestview their first lead of the night with 7:24 to go.
For South Range coach Kelsey Malenic and his team, it was the first time in a long time that the Raiders had found themselves with their backs to the wall, but it was about keeping their cool with the young players off the bench.
“I told them, calm down, we were ahead, we had injuries in different things going on, on the sidelines,” said Malenic. “We had to replace people on the fly, we had people playing in really weird positions, the ones they had never played in before, but they came in, they did their job, and we were able to put it back. our healthy daughters and put them back in the game. “
With just 4:29 to go, Lampparty unleashed another shot from over 20 yards into the upper 90 degrees of the net to tie the game off with four goals apiece.
“I just trusted my teammates, and I knew they were going to find me, and I let him down, and it came in, it was an amazing feeling,” Lampparty said of the tying score. the game. “I wanted it so badly, I was fighting, I was just fighting for my teammates and my seniors.”
Keeping everyone together as one was key before any tense game, as Sauerwein talked about following his two-goal performance.
“We were a little pissed off at times, but we all had to come together, and that’s what’s really important,” said Sauerwein. “Just to really think positively and work together, because without that we probably wouldn’t have won.”
Finishing their season with a score of 13-8, Crestview graduated five seniors, but with a heavy sophmore roster, it’s the playoff experience that is going to have a lasting impact on the Rebels program, especially more than many of the players at Crestview just started playing soccer last fall or this year.
“Winning is contagious, but even having that mentality, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day,” Rebels coach Barry Kimpel said. “Developing characteristics that you can just stick with and get stuck in tough games against tough competition, I am extremely laudatory to the South Range team, but ultimately, as a coach of Crestview, I’m just happy to see what we did tonight and where we could move forward.
Along with Captain Maci Shaffer, the Rebels will also graduate from Emily Hill, Ellie Derringer, Araya Shaffer and Sophia Carr.
“(The seniors) are a lot of simple players, girls who are ready to go and are ready to play for over 80 minutes and put it all on the line, especially when it comes to leadership characteristics, they definitely got to. pull the team forward, especially in tough games like tonight.
The Raiders have now won the district title in 2018, 2020 and 2021 with their eyes riveted on Doylestown Chippewa, who beat seed Akron Manchester 1-0 to win their group.
The regional semi-final will take place next Tuesday at a site to be named later.