As the sun slowly sank beneath the skyline of pines adjacent to Rocky River High, so too did West Forsyth’s chances of fulfilling its underdog story in these 4A girls’ soccer playoffs.
The West Forsyth Titans, whose berth in the regional final came only by way of a last-second miracle goal against heavily favored Charlotte Catholic, entered Tuesday night’s game as an underdog for the second match in a row. The only difference? When these 90 minutes elapsed, the Providence Panthers instead remained unscathed, scraping out a 1-0 win.
Despite a flurry of chances early, along with a near-goal in the waning minutes, West Forsyth’s season was over.
The lone score of the night, as decisive a tap-in as there ever was, came with just over seven minutes to play in the first half. Providence’s Elisa Hicks, sidestepping with seemingly every touch of the ball, gashed the West Forsyth defense for acres to begin the attack. After maneuvering her way into the box, she deftly detached the ball from her foot, and it made its way to Maddie McIver waiting on the other side of the net.
All she had to do was knock it in, and she did. The ball slowly rolled over the yellow end line for the match-deciding goal.
And while there was another half to play, the contest was really decided in that instant. Providence dominated possession all night, and with West Forsyth unable to muster any offense of its own, that gentle pass into the net was enough to end the Titans’ underdog race to the title game.
3 Who Mattered
Elisa Hicks, Providence: Hicks was dominant on the ball all night, sending both probing through balls on the ground and accurate crosses over the top of the defense. While she didn’t record the assist on the Providence goal, the score would never have happened without her original run.
Maddie McIver, Providence: McIver came off the bench midway through the first half and made her presence felt. Taking a calm pass from just a few yards out, McIver was able to control the ball into the net and send her team to the 4-A state championship game.
Kate Hickson, Providence: On the rare occasion that West Forsyth sparked offensively, Hickson was there to quell the attack. Twice in the second half, she dispossessed a streaking Titans player as the lone defender in the back.
▪ Providence is headed to the 4A championship for the second consecutive year. Last season, the Panthers lost 0-2 to Panther Creek.
▪ Despite not scoring Tuesday night, the Titans started the game hot on offense – they had two separate scoring chances in the first two minutes.
▪ With just less than 10 minutes left in the first half, West Forsyth goalkeeper Kerry Eagleston had one of the night’s stranger plays. She ran out of the goalie box to grab a loose ball, but instead of kicking it, she picked it up and was called for a handball. Providence earned a free kick from the baseline just outside the box.
▪ With 5:34 left before halftime, West Forsyth coach Scott Bilton was assessed a yellow card for arguing with the referees.
▪ With 9:38 to play, West Forsyth almost converted a chance near the baseline that would have tied the score, but Providence freshman goalkeeper Lizah Pistorio came up with the night’s biggest save to secure the win.
They Said It
“Just a little bit of of composure, and that’s really it. It was really the first time we’d showed any composure in the game, but we’ll take it. We’ll take it.” – Providence coach Nathan Williams on McIver’s goal
“Yeah. Kind of. It’s been our goal for the season. Feels good to make it come true.” – Hicks on whether the team has thought much about getting back to the state championship game a year after losing the title