The Centennial High School girls soccer team not only won the City League championship game against Whetstone on Oct. 12 at Mapfre Stadium, it did so in dramatic fashion.
The teams were tied at 1 through regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods before the Stars prevailed 2-1 in penalty kicks to snap the Braves' five-year reign as City champions.
"It was so nerve-wracking," coach Barb Melig said. "During the penalty kicks, I had to turn my back and not watch our girls kick. I was just listening to our girls' reactions to find out if we got it in or not."
Whetstone went first through the penalty kicks and missed its first three attempts. Centennial went ahead when Sophia Pizzurro scored on the Stars' second attempt. Whetstone's Misa Norris tied it on the Braves' fourth try, and Nina Zimmerman got the advantage back on Centennial's fourth try.
When Whetstone missed its fifth kick, the Stars didn't need their final chance.
"Everyone was screaming and shouting and I got water dumped on me," Melig said. "It was around 11:40 (p.m.) and it was chilly. The boys (City final) started a little late (that night) and it also went to penalty kicks (with Beechcroft beating West). So we had a real late start.
"The girls came to me (Oct. 14) and told me they're tired and sore, but they all said this was worth it. We needed this as a program and I needed it, too. It validates that everything we've done since spring conditioning has been worth it. It was all just so amazing. The seniors were taking pictures and our fans greeted us when we left the stadium and before we got on the bus. It was a party at the exit."
Whetstone took a 1-0 lead with about two minutes left in the first half on a goal by Jamie Bossenbroek. The Stars tied it on a header by Danielle O'Leary off a corner kick midway through the second half.
"That was a beautiful goal," Whetstone coach Doug Kohler said. "Centennial played a heck of a game. Nobody ever wants it to end with (penalty kicks). I've been on both sides of it, but it's always a strange feeling. All of the strong play, especially in the defensive (midfield) by both teams, comes off and you're left with one-on-ones. It's like ending an exciting end-to-end basketball game with a game of knockout."
The teams had split their regular-season meetings, with Centennial winning 2-1 on Sept. 19 and Whetstone winning 1-0 on Oct. 3. The Stars had lost 10 consecutive games to Whetstone before Sept. 19, with their previous win coming by a 1-0 score in the 2011 City championship game.
This marked the seventh season in a row the teams faced off in the championship game.
The Stars were 8-6-1 entering the Division II district tournament and opened Oct. 16 as host to 10th-seeded Caledonia River Valley. Centennial was seeded ninth of 16 teams.
The first-round winner plays top-seeded Granville or 14th-seeded Heath in the second round Thursday, Oct. 19, at the home of the better seed. The Stars did not play Granville or Heath in the regular season.
The district semifinal is Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the home of the higher seed. Possible opponents are fourth-seeded Bloom-Carroll, sixth-seeded Licking Valley, eighth-seeded Bexley and 13th-seeded Sparta Highland. The Stars lost to Licking Valley 3-2 on Sept. 7, but did not play Bloom-Carroll, Bexley or Highland in the regular season.
The district final is Oct. 28 at a neutral site to be determined.