ST. CHARLES — A pair of the highly successful small-school soccer squads squared off Wednesday in the Class 2 District 3 championship game at Orchard Farm High School.
The host Eagles captured back-to-back district titles with a 5-2 victory over Duchesne. The Pioneers won the Class 1 state title in 2019 and also captured championships in 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Orchard Farm was a state runner-up a year ago after falling 2-1 in overtime to MICDS in the Class 2 championship game at Soccer Park in Fenton.
With Wednesday’s impressive win, the Eagles (13-8) advanced to play the winner of Thursday’s District 4 title game between Whitfield (13-1) and Westminster (13-5) to be played at Westminster Christian Academy. That game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday’s loss ended Duchesne’s season at 10-11.
“Coming it, I think we felt confident and knew that we could play with Duchesne,’’ Orchard Farm sophomore forward Brooke Williams said. “They beat us (2-1) in our tournament, but we didn’t feel like we played our game at all that day. But today, we started strong and put the pressure on them from the start.”
The Eagles grabbed the lead in the eighth minute on a scramble following a corner kick. Senior Olivia Goeke scored the goal, knocking in a pass from Cioni Stdko.
The Pioneers pulled even midway through the opening half when Audrey Abegg scored during a scramble following a Duchesne corner kick.
But despite the goal against, Orchard Farm continued to apply the pressure. A shot from the Eagles’ Devon Sharp was cleared from the goal mouth by a Duchesne defender and Williams followed by creating a pair of dangerous chances for her squad.
The host Eagles regained control with a pair of rapid-fire goals with about 15 minutes to play before the halftime break.
Williams made it 2-1 when she received a pass from Bailey Goeke, broke in on the left wing and scored on a low shot. Just a few minutes later, the Eagles’ Kylie Machens made it 3-1 when she knocked in a crossing pass.
Six minutes after halftime, Machens stretched the lead to 4-1 when she found the corner with a shot from the edge of the penalty area.
“For some reason, I tend to black out during big moments like that,” Machens said when asked about her goals. “But as a senior it really felt great to step up and capitalize when my team needed me. Even though they beat us last time, I think we came into feeling confident, knowing that if we played our game, we had a good chance of coming out on top.
“The big thing about this team is that we don’t get down very often. Today, I thought our defense did a great job of battling to keep them from scoring and the offense kept working, too.”
Duchesne got a goal back with about 25 minutes to play when Kate Mikkelesen scored on a penalty kick after a handball in the penalty area.
But Orchard Farm responded late with a beautiful goal in transition. Just seconds after Eagles’ defender Addison Brown came up with a key blocked shot to shut down a Pioneer threat, Orchard Farm added to its lead with a goal on the counter-attack.
Moving the ball quickly from one end of the field to the other, the Eagles’ Hannah Ramsey, got the ball to Sharp in the midfield. She moved it forward quickly and then slid a pass across the penalty area to Aubri Salinas, whose finish gave the Eagles their 5-2 victory.
“We’ve talked a lot over the last couple of days about playing our game and about doing what we needed to do to be successful,’’ Orchard Farm coach Courtney Washburn said. “I thought we did a good job of possessing the ball and pressured when we got the chance. The plan was to rotate our forwards to keep them fresh. I know our midfield tired at times, but I think those first few goals gave everybody a little added energy. And we never let up on the gas.”
The coach continued: “We graduated some dynamic scorers from last year and it took us some time early this season to adjust to that. But the younger girls have stepped up to fill those roles and it’s been great to see. We have a bunch of girls who are truly excited about seeing their teammates have success.”
In a three-day span earlier this month, Orchard Farm lost 3-2 at Whitfield and 2-1 at Westminster.
“Either way, we know we’ll be facing a quality opponent and we’re excited about that challenge,’’ said Washburn, whose team’s next game in the state quarterfinals is scheduled for May 27. “We have a little time to enjoy this one and then start our preparations to make sure we’re ready for whoever we have to face next.”
Class 2 District 3 Tournament, championship: Orchard Farm 5, Duchesne 2
The Clayton girls soccer team got a tying goal late in regulation before winning in overtime.
Orchard Farm's Brooke Williams is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the Class 2 District 3 girls soccer championship against Duchesne on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at Orchard Farm High School in St. Charles, Mo. Paul Kopsky | Special to STLhighschoolsports.com