Crusaders head for fifth straight South State title game

By ANDREW ABADIE,

Sacred Heart's final chance for a fifth straight spot in the South State title game came down to a corner kick. 

 

Leading to the corner kick, Sacred Heart's Gracie Falla had missed three different opportunities before scoring the go-ahead game-winning goal. Sacred Heart began to drive the ball over the top, but each time, Clarkdale denied the Crusaders and Falla. 

 

"I heard them say a couple of times when I started missing them 'chocking' to me that just fired me up to get them next time," Falla said. "We got that corner kick, and I looked at my dad and he said it was a header. I saw it just float in and just put it away. We had to and I do it for everybody on this field."

 

With less than two minutes, Falla eventually scored the goal on a header from the corner kick in the 79th minute for the 3-2 win over Clarkdale.

 

"That's world cup stuff right there the best there is," Sacred Heart head coach Joe Fall Sr. said. "Everybody fought together, was aggressive, played together as a unit. We didn't get it done earlier, but we got it done at the end. 

 

At the start of the game, both teams quickly traded goals in the first 20 minutes of the game. 

 

Sacred Heart's Bailee Bennett scored both of the Crusaders' first two goals. Bennett scored in the fourth minute and again in the 11th minute. 

 

Clarkdale (15-6-1) scored its first goal on a scramble play in the eighth minute and then scored its second goal in the 16th minute to again tie the game. 

 

"What happened after we scored the first goal was we kind of laid back on it," Joe Falla said. "I told them all along 'Because you score the first goal does not mean you have to sit back we have to continue on and on.'" 

 

"What happened was in the first half, they were bringing the ball out to the right," Joe Falla said. "That's when I made my changes on defense so we could slow it down a little bit." 

 

Finally, in the dwindling minutes of the game, Sacred Heart (12-7) was able to rush and tire out Clarkdale with its faster attackers, which allowed for Falla to have multiple one-on-one matchups against the Bulldogs' goalie. 

 

"We knew this would be a tough game," Gracie Falla said. "Clarkdale is always a tough game. Its grind through and all effort from now on. Pushing through it is tough and we all came into this game ready to play. That's the key to every game. We have to be ready." 

 

Sacred Heart will get its rematch against Our Lady Academy for its South State Championship game. In the regular season, Sacred Heart went 1-1 against Our Lady Academy winning 1-0 in double overtime and then losing 2-1 in overtime. OLA will host Sacred Heart on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

 

The Sacred Heart boys' team will also head back to the South State Championship game after defeating Forest 5-0 against Clarkdale on Tuesday.  

Sacred Heart's final chance for a fifth straight spot in the South State title game came down to a corner kick.

Leading to the corner kick, Sacred Heart's Gracie Falla had missed three different opportunities before scoring the go-ahead game-winning goal. Sacred Heart began to drive the ball over the top, but each time, Clarkdale denied the Crusaders and Falla.

"I heard them say a couple of times when I started missing them 'chocking' to me that just fired me up to get them next time," Falla said. "We got that corner kick, and I looked at my dad and he said it was a header. I saw it just float in and just put it away. We had to and I do it for everybody on this field."

With less than two minutes, Falla eventually scored the goal on a header from the corner kick in the 79th minute for the 3-2 win over Clarkdale.

"That's world cup stuff right there the best there is," Sacred Heart head coach Joe Fall Sr. said. "Everybody fought together, was aggressive, played together as a unit. We didn't get it done earlier, but we got it done at the end.

At the start of the game, both teams quickly traded goals in the first 20 minutes of the game.

Sacred Heart's Bailee Bennett scored both of the Crusaders' first two goals. Bennett found the net quickly in the fourth minute and again in the 11th minute.

Clarkdale (15-6-1) scored its first goal on a scramble play in the eighth minute and then scored its second goal in the 16th minute to tie the game at 2-2. 

"What happened after we scored the first goal was we kind of laid back on it," Joe Falla said. "I told them all along 'Because you score the first goal does not mean you have to sit back we have to continue on and on.'"

"What happened was in the first half, they were bringing the ball out to the right. That's when I made my changes on defense so we could slow it down a little bit."

Finally, in the dwindling minutes of the game, Sacred Heart (12-7) was able to rush and tire out Clarkdale with its faster attackers by pressing over the top, which allowed for Falla to have multiple one-on-one matchups against the Bulldogs' goalkeeper.

"We knew this would be a tough game," Gracie Falla said. "Clarkdale is always a tough game. Its grind through and all effort from now on. Pushing through it is tough and we all came into this game ready to play. That's the key to every game. We have to be ready."

Sacred Heart will get its rematch against Our Lady Academy for its South State Championship game. In the regular season, Sacred Heart went 1-1 against Our Lady Academy winning 1-0 in double overtime and then losing 2-1 in overtime. OLA will host Sacred Heart on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The Sacred Heart boys' team will also head back to the South State Championship game after defeating Forest 5-0 against Clarkdale on Tuesday.