Cardinal Gibbons earns redemption and elusive first state girls’ soccer championship

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Andre C. Fernandez
·2 min read
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The last time Cardinal Gibbons goalkeeper Alexis Deveaux walked out of Spec Martin Stadium she hugged her coach Margo Flack and cried her eyes out.

A year later, Deveaux was jumping for joy and hugging teammates Heather Astle and Paige Pierrelouis while the match was still going on.

Deveaux made a pair of saves — including the critical penalty kick stop — to help Gibbons win its first state championship with a 2-0 shutout of Panama City Arnold in the Class 4A final.

Deveaux’s embraces came seconds after she rejected a penalty kick attempt by Arnold’s Olivia Lebdaoui early in the second half that would have tied the match with 27 minutes remaining. A year earlier, Deveaux had a rain-soaked ball slip through her grasp and result in the decisive goal in a 2-1 loss to Bishop Kenny.

“This [feeling] is going to kick in today at some point,” Deveaux said. “When that happened, it really felt like we deserved it and we deserved to be here. Big saves win games. It gave my team more confidence we could do it.”

The Chiefs (12-2-1) had lost in the finals each of the past two seasons and were 0-3 at state all-time,

“It hasn’t just been this season,” said Flack, who finished her 21st season as the Chiefs coach. “These girls have been going at this for two or three years and this is huge for our program. It wasn’t just a fluke.”

The Chiefs broke through with 11:54 left in the first half when freshman Samantha Fuini kicked home a deflection off an Arnold defender.

“I’m still in shock we did this,” Fuini said. “I’m glad I could contribute to this.”

Junior Sydney Polivka iced the match late in the second half scoring on a header off a pinpoint corner kick by Madison Rivard.

“She couldn’t have put a better ball in for me and I just put it in the net,” Polivka said.

Deveaux started in Gibbons’ state semifinal win last week against Orlando Bishop Moore which ended in penalty kicks, but was not the goalie in the shootout itself.

“It was scary,” Deveaux said. “I kind of knew she was going in that direction (with the shot). I trusted my instincts and just went with it.”