As Meghan DeSantis struck a corner kick late in the first half, the sound it made was a solid thump. The trajectory it took made a resounding impact.
The ball bent from the corner flag on a line to the far corner of the goal, appearing to strike the crossbar, then the post, then the net, sending Frederick Douglass up 2-0 in their 42nd District Tournament semifinal match against Sayre and her Broncos teammates into pure jubilation at the stunning and rare shot in front of their home crowd.
But maybe it’s not so rare for DeSantis.
“I think she’s had two more in her career,” Douglass Coach Megan Adkins said of her junior playmaker. “It was fantastic — perfect placement. She puts great balls in from the corner and this one tonight showed just how great of an athlete she is.”
Douglass went on to claim a 3-2 victory in the game, which sends the third-year team to its second straight 42 District finals and its corresponding bid to next week’s 11th Region Tournament.
The win avenged a 2-0 loss to the Spartans in the regular season and capped what has been a roller-coaster 13-7 campaign for the Broncos, who hit a three-game losing streak late and lost their starting goalkeeper, Maliya Crump, to injury in that span.
“(We’ve had) little things that we’ve just had to work out,” DeSantis said of their setbacks. “I think we’re getting there, and we’re getting stronger every day as a team and as a family.”
DeSantis’ “olimpico” (because one was famously once struck in the Olympics) with seven minutes left in the half was her second score of the game. About 10 minutes into the action, DeSantis headed home a perfect cross from Lindsey Hager as she flew into it from just outside the 6-yard box for the opening goal.
Hager scored two minutes into the second half as she dribbled unchecked into the box and rifled a right-footer out of the keeper’s reach to make it 3-0.
Sayre, which finished its best season in years at 18-3, continued to battle and clawed back to 3-1 on an Allison Whitaker free kick from about 25 yards out at the 10:39 mark and then made it 3-2 in the closing moments on a Whitaker shot from a difficult angle near the end line.
Douglass will face Henry Clay, the district’s top seed, at 6:30 p.m. Friday, again on its home turf. Henry Clay defeated Scott County 1-0 in Wednesday night’s first semifinal. The Blue Devils’ McClaine Huffman scored the lone goal.
“Really, this team is rallying around these seniors,” Adkins said of four players (Hager, Ellie Kiper, Caroline Taylor and Jennifer Toscano) who helped found the program their sophomore year. “They don’t want it to be over. We haven’t done everything that they wanted to do this year. … They know this is it. It’s tournament time — win or go home.”