When a couple of breaks fell St. Teresa’s Academy’s way in a state semifinal victory Friday, some players suggested it meant the Stars were destined for something bigger a day later. That perhaps a year after Stars coach Jeremy McElduff had spent the summer battling a life-threatening disease, his team would reward his recovery with a state championship.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Maybe next year.
Eureka upended St. Teresa’s 2-1 in the Class 3 state championship game Saturday at Blue Springs South, getting two goals from Allie Gentry and winning its first state title in school history.
After St. Teresa’s midfielder Elizabeth Luallin tied the game at 1-1 in the opening half, Gentry scored the decisive goal only 6 minutes into the second half.
“We really wanted to win this for our coach,” St. Teresa’s senior Peepers Gray said. “They gained a lot of the momentum when they scored in the second half. That’s what hurt us a lot. We never recovered.”
The Stars, 18-3, weren’t without their chances. They outshout Eureka 14-7 for the game.
But each good opportunity after halftime was halted by a talented Eureka back four who frustrated the Stars’ offense into making quick decisions.
Allyson Wallner made six saves in goal for Eureka, 22-1-1.
“We couldn’t get that extra move, that extra touch, that extra pass,” McElduff said. “It didn’t fall for us the rest of the game.”
It did in the first half. Gentry opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Her shot from 15 yards out actually hit the crossbar, but it deflected straight into the air, fell to the ground directly in front of the goal and spun into the net without being touched.
It took only 5 minutes for the Stars to answer on a well-crafted pass from Angelica Duckworth to Luallin, who had no problem putting away the shot.
Gentry, though, wasn’t finished. After receiving a pass from Courtney Silberberg, she broke loose at the top of the box, forcing Stars goalie Janie Thompson to attempt to break up the play. She was too late, and Gentry lofted it over her head.
“We played really well, and we played some really good teams this year,” McElduff said. “Sometimes your luck runs out. Today, that was it.”