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Mustangs play tough, but fail to put together a scoring drive against Melbourne.
Published February 2, 2008
MELBOURNE - For most of Friday night's Class 6A region final, Melbourne and Mitchell kicked, ran, pushed and pulled in the colossal effort to score.
Finally, about 13 minutes after Natalie McLachlan rolled a ball past keeper Laura Seletos for a 1-0 lead, the Bulldogs celebrated a trip to next week's state finals with sprays of sparkling grape juice provided by jubilant parents.
The Mustangs looked on in shock.
"It was a very physical game, a typical regional final," Melbourne coach Rosie Lord said.
Indeed it was, with large groups of highly energized supporters present to cheer on both teams.
"It was a tough game. It was an even game, decided by one point," Mitchell coach Karl Kucek said. "I have a lot of respect for the Melbourne team, but I think the referees decided the game."
Mitchell's players and fans criticized the Daytona Beach-based officials for what they thought were an unfair number of fouls: 21 for Mitchell, eight for Melbourne.
But both sides agreed the defenders from both sides stood out, turning back every attempt except McLachlan's.
Her goal came when, with Seletos out of the box, Sarah Haber knocked a perfect ball to McLachlan, who charged goalward, then rolled the ball into the empty net.
"I have got the biggest adrenaline rush of my life. I was running so fast, I don't even remember what happened," a wide-eyed McLachlan said. "The first thing was just hugging (Kristin Grubka)."
The Bulldogs held off several challenges from the Mustangs in the final 13 minutes.
"Michelle Grubka had my back and Lindsay (Hamilton), or sweeper, was the core of our defense, as always," said Melbourne goalkeeper Michelle Atkinson, who saved six shots in the match.
The Mustangs ended the season at 21-4-1, while the Bulldogs head to Fort Lauderdale 23-2-1.