By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
They had said it was a long time coming. This year's Bishop LeBlond girls' soccer team had their sights set on bringing the program its first district title since 2011.
The sixth-ranked and top-seeded Eagles (12-5) did just that with a 6-2 win over 10th-ranked and No. 2 seed Mid-Buchanan at a rain-soaked Eagle Stadium Thursday.
Seniors Reese Robertson, Olivia Elliott and Libby Weddle each scored two goals in the match.
"I mean, it means everything to us," Weddle said. "We've been working for this since we were freshmen. You know, we've gotten second place (in districts in 2018 and 2019), so we've been working really, really hard and this was our biggest goal this season. So, I'm just really proud of us."
Elliott got the scoring started with a goal off of a penalty kick with 28:39 to go in the first half. Weddle got her first goal 12 minutes later to give the Eagles a 2-0 cushion.
Then, the skies opened up.
What started as basically sprinkles intensified into a fairly steady downpour for the final 10-15 minutes of the first half.
With no thunder or lightning, the game kept going.
"The weather was a big obstacle," Weddle said. "But, I think we had to shut it out. I know it's pretty hard to shut out the weather, but I think that was our biggest thing. Just not let anything get in our way. Just continue to play our game."
Both teams kept battling in the mud and the rain, and never let up.
After only a couple of shots-on-goal in the first 30 minutes, Mid-Buchanan (11-7) had a decent threat going late in the first half and freshman Emily Parrott was able to squeeze a goal past LeBlond keeper Hannah Bentrup with just over 10 minutes left before halftime, making it a 2-1 match.
With time ticking down, Weddle got a nice cross pass from Elliott and pushed through her second goal with just 1:42 to go in the half, giving the Eagles a 3-1 lead at the break.
"I think that was really big for us," she said. "We were trying to get comfortable and at that point, we were a little nervous. So, I think adding another goal (before halftime) was really good for us and it allowed us to progress throughout the game."
The Eagles' offense progressed nicely throughout with 16 total shots-on-goal. Elliott, who scored the first goal of the first half, got the scoring started in the second with an unassisted goal from a few yards out, putting LeBlond ahead 4-1 with 31:32 remaining.
"We just wanted to keep our momentum and keep going and keep pushing forward and hold (Mid-Buchanan) where they were," Elliott said.
Robertson scored a goal of her own just 45 seconds later. Only 24 seconds after that, Parrott jumped on a loose ball at midfield, ran down the pitch and punched in her second goal for the Dragons, making it a 5-2 match with still 30:23 to go.
After a scoreless back-and-forth for almost 20 minutes, Robertson squeezed a groundball past Mid-Buchanan keeper Mallie Lieffring to give the Eagles a 6-2 advantage with just over 11 minutes left.
The finishing touch on a great match and the exclamation point on the goal that LeBlond had been looking to achieve all season.
"We were all really excited," said Robertson. "I mean, it's been a long time coming. And after losing last year, this is a huge accomplishment for us. It's just great that we're the team that could get the plaque back."
While it's not the outcome Mid-Buchanan was hoping for, it certainly wasn't a bad way for a program to end its inaugural season - four games above .500, a top-10 ranking and a district runner-up plaque.
"I cannot express how proud I am of this team," Dragons coach and LeBlond alum Danielle Beers said. "They have come out and done something that no one thought that they could. I mean, first-year program. Taking second. That's awesome, and that's what I'll remember. The fact that they came out and had one really great first season."
LeBlond advances to the state quarterfinals, where they will face either Lone Jack (17-4) or St. Michael the Archangel (15-4) on May 29 at a time and location to be determined.
Lone Jack and Archangel meet in the Class 1 District 7 title game Friday evening.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.