Following a quick start, Indian Rivers girls soccer team knew what was coming but again thrived in the pressure of a Frontier League playoff final.
Junior striker Caitlin Pacilio scored the games lone goal only two minutes into the game and senior goalkeeper Lakeisha Barnes made eight saves as Indian River held off Watertown, 1-0, on Friday night to claim the A Division playoff championship.
Indian River (11-5-1), which shared the regular season division title with Watertown, defeated the Cyclones for the second consecutive year in the league title game.
I think that shook me up a little bit, Barnes said of Watertowns pressure in the second half. But I had this mentality that I wanted this for our team, I wanted it for our seniors, and I wanted it for myself. I wasnt satisfied with just tying them for the (regular-season) title we wanted this one for ourselves.
This means a lot to us, Pacilio said. A lot of our seniors put a lot of effort into everything they do and as a team weve done what weve had to do.
Pacilio provided the Warriors with the only goal they would need as after goalie Katie Aldrich made an initial save, the junior striker collected in a deflection and booted the ball into the net just 1 minute, 15 seconds into the game.
I think the ball hit off somebody, and I just looked up and I saw open space and I shot it, Pacilio said. It was great to get that lead like that early in the game. Later on it was definitely difficult against them, but we managed.
Sometimes an early goal is a detriment, Indian River coach Duane Dusharm said. Because you play back and are not aggressive because youve got a lead and you cant do that with 78 minutes left. But its always a boost to get that goal because a lot of the games in this league were decided by a 1-0 score.
After several scoring opportunities by both teams, Watertown (9-4-3) turned up the pressure, particularly after halftime, but both Barnes and Indian Rivers defense stood firm.
It was another close game and our division has been like that all year, Watertown coach Mike VanNostrand said. We gave up that goal early in the game and I felt like after that we had opportunities to score, but Indian Rivers defense was pretty solid. Theyre a tough team to play against.
Barnes made a diving save at the right post on a scoring bid by Morgan Cadwell in the first minute of the second half and later deflected away a shot sent through the goal area by Brianne Arthur with 24 minutes remaining in regulation.
Then with just over four minutes left, Barnes got a hand on a drive from Darcy Dyer, who had broken free on a rush toward the net.
Barnes, who has allowed only 10 goals this season, recorded her ninth shutout of the season, including two against Watertown.
Lakeisha has played great for us, Dusharm said. And (sweeper) Abby Lynch has been a staple for us on defense all year, with her speed shes able to make up a lot of ground.
The Warriors are unbeaten against the Cyclones in three meetings this season, including a 2-2 tie to clinch a share of the division title last Wednesday.
I think this is a really big deal, Barnes said of the playoff championship. Weve had such a hard season, and I feel like all the teams weve played have challenges for us. Weve been trying to improve as a team, and weve definitely gotten better. For me this is very sweet, especially being a senior.
Aldrich finished with four saves for Watertown, which won the division regular-season title outright last season.
This was a real high-intensity game that hopefully prepared both of us well for sectionals, VanNostrand said.