Led by fourth-year head coach Aly Joslin, back row, far right, the Deerfield girls soccer team is one win from the school’s first state title in the sport. Today, they travel to Macon to play Stratford for the GISA AAA crown. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY --- Deerfield-Windsor girls soccer coach Aly Joslin is ready to be amazed one more time.
One more celebration. One more Gatorade bath. One more win.
“If we win (today), I’ll never see a celebration like it again,” Joslin said.
The DWS soccer program certainly has never seen one like it before.
The Lady Knights will try to win the school’s first soccer state championship today when they play rival Stratford Academy in the GISA Class AAA title game in Macon, an opportunity that Joslin and has been waiting for since he took over the program four years ago.
“A state title would show everyone that we are for real and show that Deerfield-Windsor soccer is back,” Joslin said. “The girls program has always been there, but people would look at it and say that Deerfield has never won the big game. If we can go out and win the big game, it says that we are here to stay.”
A semifinal win against Westminster put the Lady Knights into the championship game for the first time in program history, but it also set up a matchup with the daunted Lady Eagles, who have won 13 state championships and six in the past decade.
Stratford is 17-0 this season, has outscored opponents 157-10 and defeated DWS, 7-0, in the only matchup between the two teams this season.
However, that March 9 rout was the Lady Knights’ first game of the season, and it was 1-0 at halftime before goalkeeper Lexi Harrison was knocked out of the game with a concussion and Joslin went deep into his bench in the second half.
Deerfield played Stratford to a 1-1 tie last regular season but hasn’t beaten the Lady Eagles in years.
But this is no ordinary year for the Lady Knights, who have won 10 in a row and are 16-3 overall.
“My freshman year we actually played Stratford in the second round of state and lost to them 11-0,” DWS senior Casey Kincheloe said. “Last year was the only year for me that we didn’t lose to Stratford in the state playoffs, and now here it is my senior year and we are playing them for the state championship. I’ve always wanted to beat Stratford, and now is the perfect time to do it.”
And the Lady Knights have the perfect player to lead them there.
Kincheloe is the all-time scoring leader in program history with 117 career goals and is two away from tying her own record of 45 in a single season.
When the senior forward steps on the field today, she could be 80 minutes away from leading the DWS program to its biggest win in history.
“I am going to be jumping up and down and pumped,” said Kincheloe, the reigning Herald Player of the Year. “Before the game starts I will be a little nervous, but once the whistle blows I will be ready to go and focused.”
Of course, Stratford is well aware of Kincheloe’s knack for finding the back of the net, and Joslin believes he has plenty of other options if the Lady Eagles shut down his top scorer.
“We have won games without Casey scoring,” Joslin said. “Obviously she is our major threat, but I think if Casey can do her job and the midfield can do its job then we certainly have many more options who can score.”
Rachel Sullivan has added 14 goals this year, while Maggie Greene, Kendyll Freeman and Haley Kincheloe have all scored 12. Sophomore forward Cheyenne Colvin has also added 10 goals and 16 assists.
It’s the best group of girls DWS has had on the field together in years.
“I think we have a lot more heart than (Stratford) does, and I think we have a lot more passion for the game,” senior midfielder Bailey Weed said. “In a game this big, this can be what gives us the extra edge to win it. I don’t think I’ve wanted anything this bad in my life. And when you put 11 girls on the field who want it that bad, we are going to do everything we can to win.”
Weed has just four goals and seven assists this season, but she has been a force in the midfield.
She sat out of practice in the days leading up the title game after being diagnosed with a torn MCL from an injury late in the regular season. She fought through the pain as the Lady Knights made their run through the state playoffs and will be on the field again today.
“My doctor’s words were, ‘You have one more game, and you’ve played three on it already. You are already hurt, and the only thing you can do is make it worse. You already will need to get it fixed, so just go for it,’ ” Weed said.
Weed has been on the team for five years and wouldn’t dream of missing Deerfield’s chance at history.
“I have been waiting for this for five years, and now the chance is here,” Weed said. “We didn’t make it this far to lose.”