PREP SOCCER: Wilson plays to final whistle, stuns Sherwood
How was Wilson able to pull off the biggest upset of the state soccer playoffs Tuesday night, when the No. 22-ranked Trojans stunned No. 2 Sherwood 2-1?
"You just play to the final whistle, I guess," Wilson coach Michele Potestio says.
Tuesday, that whistle came after two overtimes, and after Wilson sophomore midfielder Mara McLaughlin scored the winning goal with about 3 1/2 minutes to go at the end of a wild scramble in front of the net off a corner kick.
"We just played hard and believed in ourselves," Potestio says.
The feeling after the final whistle?
"Absolute euphoria," Potestio says.
Sherwood's season ended at 10-3-3.
Wilson (6-6-3) moves into the Class 5A quarterfinals and will travel to No. 7 West Albany for a noon Saturday match. The Bulldogs won 2-1 in OT at Cleveland on Tuesday.
"Obviously, with our ranking, we aren't going to host any games," Potestio says.
But that's OK, she says, because "sometimes it makes you stronger."
So, perhaps, did previous first-round playoff defeats to Sherwood. The Trojans had lost there 1-0 last year and 2-1 in overtime two years ago when the Bowmen also were ranked first or second in 5A.
"So our three-year seniors and a couple of juniors who had been through that were really excited (Tuesday)," Potestio says.
The Trojans and Cleveland shared first place in the PIL 5A with 4-0-1 records; they played to a 3-3 draw on Oct. 15.
Another highlight this season for Wilson came in a 4-3 nonleague loss at Lincoln on Oct. 3.
"We spotted them a 4-0 lead, then came back," Potestio says. "We took strength from that, and not giving up has been our mantra."
That's what enabled Wilson to pull off the playoff upset, she says, with another comeback, as Sherwood led 1-0 Tuesday at the half.
"I just talked to the girls about being aggressive and determined, being first to the ball, all the basics," Potestio says.
Wilson got the equalizer with about 10 minutes left in regulation, shortly after a corner kick.
Sophomore Carly Meyers, a defender, got the goal after a short scramble.
Potestio was subbing down the stretch of the rain-filled regulation, "just to get some fresh blood, fresh energy."
And the Trojans defense was able to deny Sherwood, which had averaged three goals per game and was coming off 6-0 wins over St. Helens and Sandy.
"It was just a matter of getting to the ball, not getting beat and playing team soccer," Potestio says.
The Trojans have a mix of experience and youth, and are led by senior co-captains Ellen Berkley, midfielder-defender, and Kenna Meinhart, forward.
"The captains have done a great job of instilling toughness," Potestio says. "And our whole team has learned to persevere and did deep and rely on the unexpected."