MASON– Kailyn Dudukovich’s goal in the 11 minute wasn’t the deciding factor.
Neither was Sydney Jones’ goal a minute later.
But, Dudukovich’s second goal, and the Firebirds’ third in consecutive minutes was the early knockout blow as Lakota West dominated Seton, 5-2, to advance to the Regional Championship.
“The game plan has stayed the same. Attack, press early, maintain possession, play our style and the results will take care of themselves,” Lakota West’s head coach Brigit Reder said with a confident cadence. “We took care of business and put three in right away.”
That might be an understatement.
Both teams had opportunities in the first ten minutes, but you could sense that the Firebirds were on the cusp of finding the net– then they did,
Lakota West’s star striker, Dudukovich, took possession after a beautiful pass from her teammate. She rushed up the middle of the field, separated herself from a defender with her speed, and sent a right strike on the ground towards the far post for the Firebirds first score.
Before the athletic directors and media members could even finish tweeting about the first score, the Firebirds found the net again.
Maya Martir dribbled from the right side and took the ball towards the center of the box. As Seton’s defense was occupied keying Dudukovich, Martir found herself with the angle. She took it and didn’t regret the decision.
Just over a minute later, Dudukovich took a through ball and all the sudden the Firebirds were up 3-0. Scoring all three goals in just three minutes.
“We got momentum, and we just played the soccer that we knew we could,” said Dudukovich of the early strikes. “I think [the win] was the product of all the hard work we’ve put in all season, and it showed itself.”
Though those three goals were plenty to win the regional semifinal matchup, the Firebirds went ahead and thought ‘why not?’ and scored two more times.
Senior captain Tori Kelly took a deep free kick, from the left side of the field. Her kick was pitch perfect as she found the upper part of the goal, just outside the reach of Seton’s keeper.
“She finally got it. I knew it was coming,” said Reder with a visible eagerness for the senior. “That’s kind of her sweet spot out there. She is a killer out there on that right side, I’m glad she found it.”
Jessica Jackson gave Lakota West their fifth and final goal in the second half, in the 58th minute.
Seton found the back of the net two times thereafter, but it was too little too late.
Next up on the Firebirds quest for a state title? The team that hoisted the trophy two seasons ago, Loveland.
The Firebirds beat Loveland 2-1 at the beginning of the season, but the Tigers are very young and that often takes time to develop. After all they just knocked of the reiging state champions, Beavercreek.
“It’ll be a good match up,” said Reder. “We know they’re not the same team they were at the beginning of the season. We’re not the same team, either. Obviously it will be a battle, grind it out game, but we’re excited for those games, that’s what the tournament is all about.”
Overall, how does it feel to playing for the Regional Championship?
“It feels freaking wonderful,” Reder said.