The girls’ soccer Falcons squad took down the Westwood Cardinals on Monday, November 4 in a thrilling 3-0 win. This win advanced Jefferson to their first state sectional final in roughly two decades.
The Falcons’ defense remained solid in the win, with Lindsay Mullin adding to her big scoring season with two goals. However, it was a surprise goal scored from an unrealistic distance by Kayla Barbosa which started the night for the Falcons.
In the first half, it was the battle of the defenses. Jefferson maintained the strong defensive play that they have shown throughout the season, highlighted by their goaltender Leah Demko, who tallied 11 saves in the half. But Westwood’s defense was equally strong, as the Cardinals dropped back an extra defender to hold off the Falcons’ offensive rush. The high-powered defenses held the score to a 0-0 tie at halftime.
Both defenses remain stellar for the start of the second half. That was until 15 minutes in, when the scoreless tie was finally snapped. On an unlikely shot from 40 yards out, Barbosa beat the keeper and put the Falcons in the lead 1-0.
“I saw the goalie was far back, and I knew that if I placed it in the top right corner she couldn’t get there,” Barbosa said on the goal. “I didn’t even know how to celebrate,” Barbosa added. “I think it just really helped get our energy up and get us going.”
Shortly after the Barbosa goal, the Falcons’ top scorer Mullin broke out on a breakaway at the net.
“You just have to focus and do whatever you can to put it in the net,” Mullin said. That she did. Mullin beat the goalie and stormed the Falcons out in front 2-0 with 17 minutes remaining in the game.
Just five minutes later, Mullin struck again. This time it was the left foot finishing for the Falcons with another high arcing shot over the keeper.
“I guess I do have a left foot,” Mullin said after the game. This pushed J-Town out to a firm 3-0 lead with just 12 minutes remaining and the Falcons would hold that advantage until the final buzzer.
Although Mullin and Barbosa came through with the heroics for Jefferson, it was the defense staying consistent that played a key role in the win.
“We all work together, and it is really good to have that because it keeps the team from falling apart…Bryn (Fitzgerald) is really clutch in the back with me working to keep the ball out of our goal,” Barbosa said.
Along with the defense, the Jefferson goaltender Demko recorded a career day and a shutout in the victory.
“It proved defense can win games, but the girls also did their job on offense to help piece together the win,” Demko said. She recorded 23 saves on the night, stopping all shots on goal.
“Our back line is just so strong,” added.
The Falcons finally cracked their long drought without a state championship appearance, which lasted about two decades.
“It means everything to me and the rest of the team. More importantly doing it with my best friends is the best thing about it,” Demko shared on the importance of this championship appearance.
With this win, the Falcons will return to the state sectional finals against Ramsey on Thursday, November 7 back at The Nest. The game time has not yet been revealed but is assumed to be either a 2 or 4 p.m. kickoff.