FENTON -- An epic ending to an epic season.
That's what the Cor Jesu Academy field hockey team was seeking Saturday afternoon, as it took to the turf at the A-B Soccer Park, for the Midwest Field Hockey Tournament championship game against archrival Nerinx Hall.
And following a thrilling game, which left all nerves absolutely frayed, and all nails completely bitten, CJA was able to hold off its rivals, for a 3-2 victory, to claim its sixth Midwest championship, and first since 2006.
"This is amazing. Just unbelievable," CJA head coach Liz Foz said, after getting a celebratory Gatorade bath from her players. "There was no way they were losing that game. And Nerinx is such a good team, they deserved to be here too. That's why this was so exciting."
And it got that way just over a minute into the game, as Nerinx scored on a putback to take a 1-0 lead.
That one-goal deficit marked the first time Cor Jesu (23-1) trailed in a game against a Missouri opponent all season, and went nothing like the plan the Charger players had laid out for themselves Friday night before the game.
"We all got together, and said we were going to jump right on him," CJA senior forward Elizabeth Horak said. "We wanted to put them on their heels right away. But instead, they did it to us, and it was kind of a shock. That's the first time that's happened."
But the Chargers knew what to do to fix it -- get the ball to Horak, CJA's leading scorer and top offensive threat.
And boy did she deliver, first with a rocket shot from the corner that somehow whipped past everyone and found its way into the back of the net.
Then with the score tied late in the first half, Horak ripped another blast past Nerinx goalkeeper Becky Ohmer. It was Horak's 20th goal of the season, and proved to be the game-winner, as the two clubs battled to a scoreless draw in the second half.
"We knew Nerinx was going to come at us hard, because of us beating them last year," senior Kathleen Golterman said. "And them taking the lead on us was really kind of motivation. We just used it to push us all day."
Senior Libby Wall had both goals for Nerinx, which finished its season 22-4-2, with two of those losses coming against Cor Jesu.
"We had a great year," Nerinx coach Nancy Milward said. "And with only four losses, and two of them coming to the state champions. That tells you how good a year we had. I'm so proud of this team."
But only one team on Saturday was going to leave the Soccer Park champions.
"We had to win this game," Horak said. "It's what we've been working for all year. I love this team, and I'm so glad that we finally won state. This is the best feeling in the world."
Score by Periods ..... 1 ... 2 -- Final
Nerinx Hall ............. 2 ... 0 -- 2
Cor Jesu Academy .. 3 ... 0 -- 3
NH - Libby Wall, assisted by Kristen Rusbarsky -- 28:52 ..... 1-0
CJA - Elizabeth Horak, unassisted -- 17:45 ........................... 1-1
CJA - Kelly Miller, assisted by Katie Pahick -- 14:26 ........... 1-2
NH - Libby Wall, assisted by Gabrielle Calandrino -- 10:51 . 2-2
CJA - Elizabeth Horak, assisted by Allison Jeldlicka -- 5:30 ... 2-3