By  //  February 9, 2013

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Melbourne High Claims Title With Dramatic WIn

The Melbourne Bulldogs celebrate winning the Class 4A girls state soccer title by defeating George Jenkins on Saturday at Tom McIntyre Stadium in Melbourne. (Image by Ed Pierce)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Somebody paid attention to the homemade sign on the fence outside Tom McIntyre Stadium at Mebourne High School before the Class 4A girls state soccer championship game on Saturday.

Drawn on yellow poster board with a magic marker the sign read “Dream It. Do It. Cherish it.”

And the Melbourne Bulldogs took its meaning to heart  by claiming a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Lakeland’s George Jenkins on penalty kicks to close the season with yet another state title on its home field.

Melbourne’s Olivia DeJong jumps to head a corner kick on an inbounds play in Saturday’s Class 4A girls state at Tom McIntyre Stadium in Melbourne. Moments later DeJong scored the game-tying goal on another corner kick. (Image by Ed Pierce)

The win marked the third time in five years that a Melbourne High girls team has captured the state championship and the fourth overall for the program.

The Bulldogs won the 2008-2009 Class 6A title by defeating Douglas and then  repeated as state champion for the 2009-2010 season by beating George Jenkins for the Class 5 A title.

“As far as this team goes, the girls are so close through the tradition we have here and that’s what makes this team similar to those other championships teams,” Melbourne High school head girls soccer coach Rosanna Lord said. “But this team has a unique heart and really wanted to win.”

After playing through a scoreless first half, the Eagles of George Jenkins scored the first goal midway in the second half on a short free kick by junior Lauren Greene.

“At that point I told the team that patience is really important,” Lord said. “I told them to stay together as a unit defensively and if we did that, we’d have no excuses. Our Bulldog pride really came through for the remainder of the game.”

Melbourne ramped up the intensity after that and finally broke the scoring ice in the 70th minute when junior Olivia DeJong emerged from heavy traffic near the net and booted it into the  left of the net past George Jenkins goalkeeper Haliegh Mercer. The goal lifted the Bulldogs into a 1-1 and marked a major swing of momentum in the game.

“It was a corner kick and it came my way,” DeJong said. “I just turned and shot and it went in. We really needed it and were trying so hard to score.”

Melbourne players receive instructions at halftime from Coach Rosanna Lord and assistant coach Mike Lord, (Image by Ed Pierce)

Neither team was able to score after that in regulation and it went to a first overtime and then a second overtime tied at 1-1.

Coming down to penalty kicks, George Jenkins kicked first and Greene connected. Then Melbourne’s Jessica Feronti did the same to tie it up.

But on the second penalty kick, Katherine Lopez  of the Eagles was stopped on a diving save by Melbourne  goalkkeeper Riley Greer. Taylor Eller of the Bulldogs then gave her team a one kick advantage by scoring past Eagles’ goalkeeper Mercer.

On the third kick penalty kick, Jessie Scarpa of the Eagles scored and so did Melbourne’s Riley Collins.

Melbourne hoists the Class 4A girls soccer state championship trophy for the 2012-2013 season after winning the title Saturday at Tom McIntyre Stadium. (Image by Ed Pierce)

Camille Knupstrup’s fourth penalty kick for George Jenkins hit the top crossbar and bounced away. Melbourne Jade Smith then stepped up and put her kick by Mercer as the Bulldogs poured onto the field to celebrate winning a state title.

After the game, Greer said she just did what she’s trained for over and over again.

“We practice penalty kicks a million times,” Greer said. “When she kicked it, I though I had a chance at it. I dove hard to my right and was just able to reach it and knock it away with my fingertips. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I can’t describe for you what I am feeling right now and how great it feels to walk off our home field as a state champion.”

Melbourne completed the season with a record of 25-0–1, while George Jenkins fell to 24-4-1.

Lord said the season came full circle for the Bulldogs on Friday when they had to find another site to practice at because the school was hosting the state finals.

“We went back to practice where we started at Hoover Middle School in Indialantic,” she said. “It was special because we started our very first practice there last fall and had our  last practice there too. It was one of the most memorable moments to remember in a championship season.”