Butterflies. Nerves. Jitters.
Playing in its first CIF Southern Section final, the Grace Brethren girls soccer team experienced the entire spectrum of emotions.
It took just one goal to put Grace Brethren on the path toward a CIF record-setting performance..
By the time Grace Brethren closed out its 6-0 victory over St. Anthony in the CIF Division 7 final, Grace Brethren had become the first team — boys or girls — to score six goals in a CIF final.
“We’re so blessed,” Grace Brethren’s Amanda Stout said. “I am so overwhelmed with excitement. This is an amazing feeling. I’m so proud of everyone.”
Grace Brethren rushed the field in jubilation after the match. They gave Coach Vince Allegra a celebratory ice shower. Allegra, soaked completely, then shared a special embrace with his daughter Frankie, the team’s goalkeeper.
“That was special,” Coach Allegra said. “She’s been around this program since she was 6 or 7. She’s been the water girl, the stat girl. It was cool we got this far, and especially for me with Frankie on the team.”
For the first 30 minutes, Grace Brethren (23-4-1) seemed to play stiff. Its passes were not connecting well, and the team seemed to be going at about half-speed.
Joana Schimmel’s 31st-minute goal changed the entire course of the match.
From that point, the Grace Brethren offensive juggernaut was not going to be stopped.
“We started off nervous and timid,” Schimmel said. “After that goal, we realized we had this and we were not going to stop. Sometimes that’s how it goes. Once we get one, it pumps up everyone.”
From there, it was a race to history.
Sammi Fisher scored three minutes later for a 2-0 lead on a breakaway. Emma Hopkins added a goal with 31.6 seconds left in the first half for a 3-0 halftime lead.
Avery Smithson and Stout added second-half goals.
Then Fisher scored her 31st goal of the season to give Grace Brethren the CIF record in the 61st minute.
The 1988 Agoura team and the 2008 Desert Christian team were part of a group of four teams that had scored five goals in a CIF final, but Grace Brethren set itself apart.
“This feels amazing. Nothing can compare to it right now,” Fisher said. “Once we got that first goal, that settled us down. Then we used our speed to blow by them to get more goals.”
Grace Brethren now has 108 goals on the season — the most in the CIF Southern Section this season, including a whopping 31 in the postseason.
“Once we settled down, we just wanted to score more and more and get each other goals,” Hopkins said. “This means all the hard work we put in all year was justified and rewarded.”
Grace Brethren said it feeds off each other’s energy and takes pride in its balanced attack and hopes it will translate well into next week’s Southern California Regionals.
“As long as we work together, we feel we can accomplish anything,” Smithson said.