Northshore pulls out wild 3-2 win over Mandeville to capture Division I girls soccer championship

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You can call it a St. Tammany Civil War and an instant classic. One thing is certain. The Division I girls soccer championship was a great game.

The stands were packed at Hammond’s Strawberry Stadium, and the stage was set before kickoff.

Unbeaten Northshore had downed district rival Mandeville last month, 4-0. This match was far different. Playing in their second state title game in three years, the Skippers of head coach Sean Esker were ready to play. The Panthers had just enough answers.

Brooke Cutura’s penalty kick in overtime gave top-seeded Northshore a 3-2 victory Friday night over third-seeded Mandeville to cap a back-and-forth affair.

With the game tied 1-1 near the end of the first overtime period, Northshore had the lead for the first time in the match eight minutes into overtime when senior Mikayla Price blasted an upper corner shot home from outside of the area to make it 2-1. But hold on. Nothing came that easy on this night.

On another Northshore corner, the ball was cleared out to Mandeville’s Maggie Sides in transition. She was able to break free from keeper Grace Murders and bury a shot to tie it again.

The game winning goal was set up when Cutura found herself with the ball 45 yards away from the goal with an apparent clear path to take on the keeper. Sides was the last defender who could prevent that scenario but took a yellow card on the challenge.

With the weight of the game on her shoulders, the senior Cutura calmly converted into the side of the net from the spot.

“All the pressure was on me scoring the last goal, so for me to get that, I’m just so grateful. It is just amazing,” said Cutura.

Northshore defender Jordan Grigsby was named the most outstanding player of the finals, helping a senior-laden team finish off their run at redemption.

“Ever since our loss to SSA last year, it put that feeling in us that we never wanted to have again,” Grigsby said.

Mandeville (26-3-3) started the game with high pressure and intensity that put Northshore on their heels. With the high stakes apparent, the game was very unsettled at first. The work rate of both teams was phenomenal as the ball kept traversing from penalty box to penalty box.

Most teams feel each other out during the first half but not this game. Usually players play this intense for 10 minutes or so and then back off but neither team let up as adrenaline powered them throughout.

It looked like the game would go to the half scoreless before Mandeville’s Caroline Aertker found herself outside the box wide open with the ball. She buried the shot, giving the Skippers the 1-0 lead.

After halftime, the pace of the game continued but Mandeville was more in a protective mode with the lead. It worked for nearly 30 minutes but with 16 minutes to play, Northshore cashed in on their chance with a corner kick. The ball was played perfectly to the far post where four Panthers converged on it. SJ Mull was credited with the tying goal as the Skippers could not clear the ball away from the box.

The Panthers as the No. 8 seed last year lost the D1 final to St. Scholastica, 2-1.

“I’m speechless. Coming here last year and not winning crushed me so coming back to win it means everything,” explained Price.

In his first year as head coach of the Northshore girls, Ryan Lazaroe led the school to its first state soccer title since 1990.

“We did not expect them to press that high, that hard or that aggressive,” Lazaroe said. ” Fortunately we had that fight, that hunger, that character to get back into it. I think Mandeville outplayed us the majority of the match. But that’s what champions do. We found a way to win.”

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Alan DeRitter

Alan DeRitter

Soccer Analyst/Coach

2013 – Present…Head Soccer Coach, De La Salle High School 2007 – 2011…Head Soccer Coach, Archbishop Shaw High School 2004 – Present…Director of Coaching for Soccer Innovations of America 2006…Asst. Head Coach, St. Martin’s Girls Team 2006…ODP Louisiana Staff Coach 1986-2005…Brother Martin High School; Head coach 1986; 1994 -2004 State Champions 2000 2000 District 10 Div. I Coach of the…

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