By LORI MEIER, Contributor
The Vandegrift Lady Viper are the Area soccer champions after defeating Klein High School 3-2 in a playoff nailbiter on Tuesday, April 2 at College Station HS.
Vandegrift moves onto Round 3 of the UIL State Playoffs against Cypress Woods High School on Friday, April 5 at 8 p.m. at Bastrop Memorial Stadium.
“To say I am proud of our girls is an understatement,” said the elated Sharis Lachappelle, head coach of the Vandegrift girls soccer program.
While Vandegrift controlled possession and action early in the first half, it was Klein who put up the first goal off a corner kick. According Lachappelle, it was the first time in over 1,800 minutes of soccer that her team had to battle from being down a goal.
Fortunately, later in the first half, Vandegrift tied the score with a beautiful cross from Olivia Perez to a charging Kaya Pehrson who headed it home with authority.
In the second half of the match, the Lady Vipers went up 2-1 on a penalty kick drawn by Pehrson after being tripped in the box. Klein was able to score midway thru the final half to knot the scoreboard at 2-2.
With less than 4 minutes to play in the game, senior Stormy Meier intercepted a pass around midfield, charging forward in a Hail Mary run that beat five defenders and ended with a Klein foul for tripping in the box as Meier attempted the game winning goal. The foul set up the second PK of the game which junior Hailey Hoffmann calmly drove past a diving Klein keeper for a 3-2 game-winning lead.
With less than 3 minutes left in the game, Vandegrift continued to control possession and did not allow Klein the opportunity to force overtime play.
“Our girls are relentless and play with a never say die mentality. They never wavered in the face of adversity and had the composure to finish the game when it came down to the last minutes,” said Lachappelle. “Klein is a fantastic opponent and our girls focused for the entire 80 minutes to get the result we needed.”
On March 29, Vandegrift won their bi-district playoff game against Bridgeland High School 4-1 on a windy evening in Giddings. Goals were attributed to juniors Hailey Hoffmann(2), Olivia Perez, and Olivia Tabash with a textbook goal off her corner kick.