CORTLAND — The playoffs are about giving everything you’ve got and working hard, but at the end of the day only one team can move.
That’s the reality of the postseason and emotions ran wild in Cortland on Monday when Lakeview hosted Champion in a Division III district semifinal.
The Bulldogs pulled out a hard fought 2-0 victory to move on to the district finals in Niles on Thursday.
“We knew it was going to be competitive,” Lakeview coach Marissa Brown said. “We knew there was going to be hustle. There’s a long standing rivalry between the two schools.
“I’m also coaching against my former coach. So, lots of feelings and emotions. But, our girls were ready. We connected. We played together, and we took care of business.”
The Bulldogs certainly did.
Senior Stasia Hall made it 1-0 with 9 minutes remaining until halftime to push the Bulldogs into the lead for good. It was the culmination of a lot of work down the right sideline and it finally paid off.
“I took the ball down the line,” Hall said. “I did a little trick move to get around the defender. I went around her, and took the shot. It was quick.
“It was really the teamwork that made that happen. The first goal is always the hardest. The whole team made us get the win tonight. We all wanted it so bad.”
The score remained 1-0 until halfway through the second half. Sophomore Lorelai Lowe gave Lakeview some insurance when she found the back of the net.
“We played really hard,” Lowe said. “We definitely deserve this. We put in effort everyday at practice. We bring the energy.
“MaKenna Doran passed me the ball. I just cut, and let it rip. We’re pumped. This is what we’ve wanted all season. I think we’re bringing home a district title this year.”
Sadly, the dreams of a district title for the Flashes came to an end. Courtney Hurst blocked a shot from Ella Powers. Grayson Knoske almost curved one in, and Taylor Kuhn kicked it over the goal and through the field goal uprights.
“We’ve grown so much over the whole season,” said Champion senior Emma Koon. “We’ve grown so much over the last four years. I’ve never met more of a family in my life. We work together so well. I’m going to miss them so much.”
The number 4 seeded Flashes (12-3-2) left it all on the field.
“We put in a lot of work,” Champion coach Emily Metheny said. “This is a great group of girls. I’ve had these seniors all four years. They are heart. They give me everything. We’re one big family, and these girls should be proud of themselves.
“We knew it was going to be a battle against Lakeview. They’re a great team. We fought to the very end. Our girls should walk out with their heads held high.”
No. 3 Lakeview (15-3-1) will face top-seed Waterloo (16-0-1) for the district championship.
“We’re excited to be moving on to districts,” Brown said. “I think our record speaks to the girls hard work. Tournaments bring out the best in teams. Sometimes, they can bring out the worst. It’s going to be a battle on Thursday.”