Vero Beach loses 3-2 to Oviedo in state finals

TAMPA — Oviedo defeated the Vero Beach Fighting Indians Girls Soccer team 3-2 in an overtime shootout for their first 6A FHSAA State Championship on Saturday.  It marked the first time a team from the Treasure Coast has played for a state title in girls soccer.

Vero Beach held the lead for nearly 55 minutes after a Lauriell Young scored her 32nd goal of the year on a penalty kick at 26:06 in the first period.  The game was tied when Vero goal keeper Destiny Kelley surrendered the game-tying goal to Oviedo’s Morgan Campbell with 10:12 to go in regulation.

“I thought their goal was going to come sooner,” said Vero coach Jose Gibert.  “We did way too much defending tonight. If Destiny wouldn’t have been on her game, we would have easily conceded that goal sooner (in the game).”

Kelley had key saves in the second period at 37:30, 32:40, 15:41, 11:35, and again at 3:56.

“We were able to get behind their defense and I thought we’d be able to close out the game in regulation,” said Oviedo coach Scott Waisnen.  “But their goal keeper kept them in the game with some great saves.   It is how goal keeper play should be in a state title game.”

The game went into two 10:00 overtimes, where either team was able to mount enough of an offensive charge to score.  Hailey Bertin of Vero had clean shot on goal, but Oviedo goal keeper Lindsay Preston made a diving save with 3:17 to play in the first overtime.

A shootout followed, where both teams picked five players to take penalty kicks.  Vero started off hot, with goals from Sarah Keville and Ashley Ritter.  Sarah Buckley of Oviedo made the first goal for her team, but Kelley made two great saves for Vero to make their lead 2-1.

Young was up next, but her attempt was blocked by Preston.  Oviedo’s Megan Borger scored and Bertin’s shot went high of the goal, leaving the score 2-2 with one kick remaining for each team.

Campbell scored to put Oviedo up 3-2, and Vero’s Kat McClain had her kick blocked on a diving, fingertip save by Preston.  The game was over, and Vero lost a heartbreaker to end their season just short of their ultimate goal.

“A shootout is always a hard way to win or lose a game,” said Waisnen.  “We happen to be on the other end this time, and we’ll take it.  We went down 2-1, we had two kicks left and they had three–all we needed was one save and our goal keeper Lindsay made that one stop we needed to give us a ray of hope.  We’re just happy to pull out the victory for our school.”

“Normally when you make two saves like she did in a penalty shootout, you’re going to come out on top,” said Gibert.  “It was just unfortunate that things didn’t go our way.”

Vero ended the season 20-4-2, and Gibert couldn’t say enough about the way his girls played.

“Our girls showed a lot of heart and character with their play tonight,” said Gibert.  “They’re all beat up but they fought hard.  It wasn’t meant to be–we got a lot of unlucky breaks.   We just couldn’t generate the offense we needed to win.  It’s been a magical ride and we had our sights on the finish line–we could taste it, we could see it, but we just couldn’t get there.”

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