Atop District 9-I, Mount Carmel had all but wrapped up the crown.
The Cubs, with a 3-0 district record had defeated Chappelle twice and topped Dominican.
What remained was a second game against a second-place Dominican squad that was 2-1 in the league and vying for their share of the district crown on Saturday night Pan American Stadium.
Kristen Nuss, however, buried Dominican’s chances in the 58th minute.
The goal-poaching forward cleaned up a blocked shot attempt from the left wing, placing the game-winning score in the far left post to help the Cubs clinch the district title.
“It certainly wasn’t our best effort. It wasn’t our best display of soccer,” Mt. Carmel coach Pavlos Petrous said. “But we’ll definitely take it. Any time you can pull out a game like this against a very quality opponent, especially Dominican, there’s something to be said. So, we’ll take it for sure.”
Midway through the match, neither Dominican (14-4-6, 2-2-0) nor Mt. Carmel (15-4-6, 4-0-0) could create many opportunities to score.
Balls were jarred loose in the box. Crosses and through balls were intercepted. And the combined shot total added to just five.
“Both teams were all over the place, really,” Petrous said. “Neither could establish some type of rhythm.”
Then the breakthrough came.
“We played a great ball in on the left side. Hope (Hoffman) made a great move to get the cross,” Nuss said. “Then Emily (Dares) caught the first ball, and there was just a mix-up in the box. Their keeper tried to save it, but I just happened to be there to finish it off.”
And finish Dominican.
The Cubs dropped into a defensive shell the remaining 20 minutes, stymieing Dominican’s attempts to score an equalizer.
“At times, we put in effort, and at times we sort of followed the flow off the game instead of looking to put our mark on it, and against good teams, you can’t afford to do that,” Dominican coach Al Silvas said.
“We didn’t allow many shots at goal, and the one or two we did, we cleaned up except for one that got away from us. But Mt. Carmel is the No. 1 team in the state for a reason. They take care of business when they step on it, and unfortunately, we didn’t compete with them for a full 80 minutes.”
Added Petrous: “Tonight just proved that we can handle the big girls, the quality programs.”