For O’Fallon Christian sophomore forward Eleysa Kellam the end of the Class 2 girls soccer championship game was a wonderfully indescribable moment.
For Eagles senior Grace Kinsey, the state title game was a wonderful end to an amazing season and a perfect end to her soccer career.
On May 31, Kellam scored an acrobatic goal with 10 minutes to go and Kinsey made that goal stand up with a shutout as O’Fallon Christian beat Cape Girardeau Notre Dame 1-0 in the Class 2 championship at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City to claim the first state championship in program history and team state championship in school history.
“It was a really cool experience and it was a feeling I don’t think anyone on our team could describe,” Kellam said.
Kellam also noted that having a huge student cheering section there was a great suport for the team.
“It was fun having a whole bunch of fans there and the athletic director and principal there because it was cool to have that support from the school and we were able to win it for them,” she said.
The play of the game was delivered by Kellam at the 70-minute mark off an outstanding pass from Chloe Hall.
“It was like a half-bicycle kick where I was trying to to do one of those backward and land on my back but she [Hall] hit it a little too far out in front of me, so I had to reach for it …,” she said.
Kellam’s clutch goal was possible in large part thanks to another superb outing in goal by Kinsey, who picked up her 10th shutout of the season.
“I just kept thinking about how I had to be a rock for my defense and try to keep the ball out of the net and try to help my team,” Kinsey said.
Eagles coach John Wagner credited Kinsey with stopping the Bulldogs potent offense and giving the Eagles a chance to get the lead and keep it in the second half to secure the championship.
“She basically saved our game in that first half,” Wagner said. If she didn’t make those saves, we were going into halftime [down] 2-0 to a really good, solid Cape Notre Dame team.”
Kinsey enjoyed being able to finish her season and career with a state championship and with a 15-4 record in goal.
“A shutout is always incredible,” Kinsey said.”Getting my 10th shutout and winning a state championship is really incredible.”
Kellam’s effort in the title game was even more significant since she was “banged up.”
“I had surgery about a week ago and during the Pleasant Hill [semifinal] game I took a hit where I was elbowed in the stomach and I felt a sharp pain,” Kellam said. “I didn’t realize until after the game that I had opened up my stitches again, so I ended up putting a band-aid over it for the final game and played through it.”
O’Fallon Christian defeated Pleasant Hill 3-1 in that semifinal game on May 3o. Senior forward Emily Hanrahan, Kellam and senior forward Abby King scored to aid the Eagles’ cause. In so doing, the Eagles defense held Pleasant Hill and standout Mackenzie Dimarco to a first-half goal.
“She [Dimarco] was able to break through one time and score a goal,” Wagner said. “In the second half, we switched our formation a little bit to account for her and were able to shut her down the rest of the game. Then, we were able to just to just work in a couple of goals.”
The final moments of the title game brought a mixed bag of emotions for the Eagles seniors as King, Kinsey and other seven seniors celebrated winning state in their first and only trip to the Class 2 tournament.
“Unreal,” King said. “It didn’t feel like it was our last game. It was like a wonderful dream we didn’t want to wake up from and it was kind of bittersweet knowing it was the last game we would play together.”
King added that seeing the program evolve from a 5-win season in 2013 when she was in eighth grade to a state championship was really special for the seniors and the school.
“It felt really good,” King said.
King ended the year with 14 goals and 34 points. Kellam finished the season with a team-leading 24 goals and 62 points.