Nearly a month ago, Richmond shut out Almont in a regular season girls soccer game, but Tuesday night, the Raiders were able to win when it mattered most: in a district semifinal.
“It kind of just gives me vibes from last year [when Almont defeated Richmond in overtime of the district championship]. My coach has this whole thing where when Almont gets to districts, we come to play. It’s a whole new team,” junior Jesse Kautz said.
Almont, which finished second to Richmond in the BWAC, was clinging to a narrow 2-1 lead at halftime. The Raiders then pulled away 5-2 midway through the second half as Kautz scored the team’s final goal, breaking her own school record with her 35th goal of the season. They would go on to win 5-3.
“It took me a while to put one in the back of the net, and I only got one so I didn't beat [the record] by a huge amount, but I still beat it which is an amazing feeling,” Kautz said. “It was our last goal of the game, which really helped because they ended up scoring after that so it was a good head start.”
During last year’s district tournament, Kautz broke the school record for number of goals scored in a single season at 34. Last night’s goal was her 35th of this season with another game still to go.
Knowing her striking power, teams have doubled and even tripled their coverage against her, making this year’s accomplishment all the more impressive. Kautz tied the record on May 24 when Almont defeated Yale 8-0 in the district quarterfinal. She managed four goals that night.
Heading into Tuesday’s game against Richmond, however, she wasn’t so confident she’d find the net to break her record.
“I think two games ago, my coach told me where I was at because I wasn’t keeping score or anything and he didn’t want me to know,” she said. “But when we played Yale in the first district game…I ended up scoring all four and tied it up. But I didn’t score against Richmond last game, it was 5-0, and I was terrified.”
Not wanting their season to come to an end, the Raiders made some adjustments. Avery Peake, who’s typically a defender, moved to midfield and was able to distribute the ball, sparking new life into the Almont offense. She even scored the team’s first two goals of the night, which then drew some of the defense’s attention away from Kautz.
“They weren’t guarding me as tightly. When we played them and lost a couple weeks ago, we did not have our full team,” Kautz said. “Lola [Battaglia] hurt her foot and we ended up kind of changing our lineup, so what they saw then was not what they saw this week.
“Avery was in the middle and once she started scoring, because they were on me a lot, they started to have to change things up and start man guarding her, so I think we kind of just threw them a curve ball. We’ve been trying her in midfield the last couple of games and our coach realized we needed her everywhere, she’s amazing.”
Battaglia, back from injury, managed the other two goals en route to the Raiders’ season-saving victory. The team will now play Flint Powers, the tournament host, tonight at 5 p.m. for the Division 3, District 43 championship.
“I’m a little nervous just becuase of the history with us. Last year they definitely gave us some of our own medicine [in the regional semifinal], and a couple years before that…we were beating them the entire first half, but then they came back and scored like five goals,” Kautz said, “ so I’m nervous, but I know that it’s anyone’s game.”
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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