Sporting white ribbons in their hair to remember their late principal Sandy Lundberg, the top-ranked Casteel Colts girls soccer team took the field at the state championships for the second time in three years.
In a dominant game, the Colts blanked No. 10 Ironwood Ridge 3-0 to capture the 5A girls soccer state championship.
Casteel came out of the gate strong both offensively and defensively, keeping the ball mostly in Ironwood Ridge territory. However, Ironwood Ridge played solid defense, and showed it was deserving of a shot at the title despite its low seed.
The first and only goal of the first half was scored off a corner kick. With about 24 minutes left in the first half, Casteel senior Lily Lentz kicked the ball in to play, nearly scoring on its own. But her teammate and fellow senior Samantha Anger headed it into the back of the net.
“Lily kicked the most amazing ball ever,” Anger said. “It probably would have already went in, and it barely even went off my head. I just want to give her all the glory on that, because it was all her, but I just happened to be there at the end.”
“It was such a relief that we were able to execute it and get it, especially in the state championship,” Lentz added.
Casteel coach Jason Hammonds said corner kicks have become the team’s strong point and acknowledged how dangerous they can be for other teams.
“If we can’t get the shot off, we are actively looking to get the corner,” Hammonds said.
At the beginning of the second half, Ironwood Ridge started to pick things up, taking more shots on goal and keeping the ball out of their own territory. However, it was short-lived as Casteel was able to score thanks to a perfect kick up the center of the field by junior Morgan Lewis with about 35 minutes left to play.
However, Casteel freshman Nathalie Lewis wasn’t going to let her older sister be the only one to get in on the action.
With just over 13 minutes left to play, she had a goal of her own, extending Casteel’s lead to 3-0. As soon as she scored, the crowd went wild and chanted, “she’s a freshman!”
“It’s amazing,” Morgan Lewis said. “The both of us scored and the both of us playing on the same team and being able to connect off each other provides for a really good experience for a high school season.”
“I knew that if she scored then I’d score to keep us hyped, so it just felt good,” Nathalie Lewis added.
Hammonds highlighted the sisters’ ability to push each other to get to this point. He also touched on how they’re going to be such an integral part of next year’s team.
After the game with tears in their eyes, Lentz and Anger reflected on what it was like to not only win two state titles during their time at Casteel, but to go out with a win and do it with some of their teammates they’ve played with their whole life.
“It’s an amazing feeling, some of us girls have played together since we were six,” Anger said. “So to win a state championship with them is nice.”
“It definitely was hard. We worked for it. It was not easy for us, but it’s amazing,” Lentz added. “A lot of us have played soccer together since we were really little so to get not only one, but two, it means the world.”
The cherry on top, of course, was winning it for Lundberg. Lundberg passed away in the summer of 2018 after a long battle with cancer. She was a huge supporter of the girls soccer program and made it a point to make it out to every game.
“Not having Sandy on the sidelines was incredibly difficult,” Hammond said. “We miss her greatly.”
“She was such a big part of our program when we started and we wear the white for the white buffalo, because she always wanted us to be unique and one of a kind,” Anger added. “It’s just an amazing feeling that we get to carry on her legacy.”