Haslett beats Williamston, 2-1, in penalties
WILLIAMSTON – The scene was all too familiar for Audrey Archambault.
In last year’s CAAC Gold Cup final, the Haslett senior scored the fifth and final penalty kick to give the Vikings the championship.
And in Thursday night’s championship game against Division 3 top-ranked Williamston, the midfielder was asked to do the same thing.
And just like last year, she delivered.
Archambault’s PK gave Division 2 No. 7 Haslett a 2-1 win over the Hornets to give the Vikings the Gold Cup title for the second consecutive year and set off a pitch invasion from the visiting fans.
“I did get a little bit of déjà vu when I was running back after I scored that goal and saw everyone running at me,” Archambault said. “I thought it was a full-circle moment. It was incredible.
“It definitely helped having the returning team that’s been in big games before. And (they) all want to win and know what it feels like to win those games. I’m just so proud of everyone. Everyone worked so hard during this game and we all worked together to get the outcome that we did.”
The game was tied 1-1 after 80 minutes and went straight to penalties, which Haslett won, 4-2. Viking goalkeeper Ally Maloney made one save in the shootout and saw another Williamston attempt go wide. Abby Sloan, Carly Doran and Kaema Amachree scored the other Haslett PKs.
Maloney also had two huge saves in the final five minutes of regulation after the Hornets had equalized.
“Audrey being a senior, winning it last year for us and this year, it’s awesome,” said Haslett coach Dave Littleton.
“We’ve been practicing PKs for the last couple of weeks. t’s great to be back-to-back champions of anything. We lost to them a couple of weeks ago and we wanted to show we could play with the No. 1 team in the state in Division 3.”
Haslett (12-1-1) also got revenge on Williamston (11-2-1) after the Hornets won the regular-season matchup, 1-0, and eventually the CAAC Red title.
“It definitely stung losing at our home field, and we always want to win big games,” Archambault said. “This one, especially after losing (earlier in the year), we wanted to win it even more and I’m glad we are here right now. It kind of stung when they scored with five minutes left in the game.”
Williamston had the better of the play in the first half, creating the only two shots on target in the opening 40 minutes. But in the second half, Haslett’s penchant for switching the field and playing the ball out wide started to pay dividends.
And in the 57th minute, Haslett opened the scoring thanks to an individual moment of brilliance from senior Ireland Jacob.
After Jacob chased down a long pass from the left sideline to the right near midfield, Jacob dribbled down the right touchline past the defender, then cut inside toward the 18-yard box, dribbled past the defender again and then used her left foot to score near post for a 1-0 lead.
“In the first half, there were a couple of times we got the ball to Ireland out wide, and (she) was able to get a cross in or take the ball to goal,” Littleton said. “And she did that on that goal, too, we got it wide and she beat her defender and put a great shot on net and it went in”
Jacob has now scored in each of the last three games, netting one against Okemos on May 13 and in the Gold Cup semifinal against Mason on Tuesday.
“She’s been really coming into her own the last few games,” Littleton said. “The last three games, she’s been on fire and it’s really great to have somebody, whether she’s starting or coming off the bench, giving that effort.”
Haslett looked to be in control until Williamston scored with just 6:26 left. A high-arching cross near the right touchline found its destination as junior Ella Kleiver headed it home to draw the match even at 1-1.
After that, Kleiver had two big chances saved by Mahoney that could’ve sent the Hornets home with the trophy.
“It was the wrong time to play our worst game in a while,” said Williamston coach Steve Horn. “Everything we tried didn’t really work, wasn’t clicking. Credit to Haslett, they were playing hard. … I thought we played hard, too.
“I thought we were going to get (a second goal). We had the momentum in that moment.”
With both teams among the state’s best in their divisions, the goal of accumulating postseason trophies is a realistic one. And that’s where they’ll turn their focus when district play begins next week.
“Now we’re ready to fight for it, all the time, every play,” Archambault said.
Contact digital sports reporter Phil Friend at 517-377-1220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Phil_Friend.