Most of the Republic Lady Tigers soccer players have only two seasons of experience. And now, they have one district championship.
Republic beat Rogersville 1-0 in a rough-and-tumble championship game Friday night to capture the district title in only its second season. The Lady Tigers got their only goal with 25:30 left in the first half, when Sara Marcotte scored from a seemingly impossible angle going left to right beyond the arms of a diving Rogersville goalkeeper.
“I got it about the 30, and I turned and went wide. Cut in at about the 18 and just took a shot far side,” says Marcotte. “It was a bad angle–so bad. I really didn’t have any chance. I just hoped for the best and it went in.”
Republic had repeated chances in the second half. Sierra Casagrand’s shot was just off the mark with 27 minutes left in the game. With 24 minutes left, Rogersville’s defenders blocked two close-range shots by Marcotte and Samantha Minor.
With 19 minutes left, Rogersville’s goalkeeper made a fantastic diving save on another angled shot by Marcotte. And at the ten-minute mark, another save knocked a shot by Casagrand just wide.
Not only did the Lady Tigers have a chance to make history with a district title, but they had extra motivation after being seeded 2nd in the district tournament, despite having beaten all the other teams in the district.
“They were madder than I was,” says coach Mike Hines. “When I sent the text out the night of the seed meeting…my phone blew up for the next two hours. They were furious.
“I didn’t have to do any motivating. You put the big #2 on the whiteboard, and they come in and see that. They were self-motivated, which is the best that you can have. But then you gotta put up or shut up,” says Hines.
Republic starts three players with experience in club soccer. The rest of the team has very little experience.
“The (Willis) twins just started playing in March, and the other girls played last season,” says Hines. “I tried to put it in perspective. Imagine starting a basketball program, and you had one player that had substantial experience. And none of the other players had played except maybe one season, and then coming out and winning a district championship. It’s amazing.”
Hines says the team has exceeded expectations from the very start.
“I looked at the schedule I thought we’d be about .500. But then I saw what our two sophomores up top (Marcotte and Sierra Casagrand) were capable of doing, I knew we had a shot.
“You need a little bit of luck, you need good goalkeeping, and you gotta have a goal scorer, and we had all three of those this tournament, and that’s what pushed us through,” says Hines.
Republic plays Warrensburg on the road in the sectionals next Tuesday.