The Rowland Hall Winged Lions, who had won four consecutive state championships entering Saturday, have found their Kryptonite, and her name is Seven Castain.
The senior, whose name also happens to be her jersey number, scored all four of Waterford’s goals in its 4-3 2A state championship victory over Rowland Hall Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The win for the Ravens spoiled what could’ve been a historic day for the Winged Lions, who were looking to set a state record with five consecutive state championship victories.
The four-goal performance gave Castain 71 goals on the season — 21 more than the next player and a state record, according to MaxPreps. It also, conveniently enough, gave her seven total goals against Rowland Hall this season.
Castain’s fourth goal came with just five minutes remaining in the game and the score level at 3. Collecting the ball with her back toward goal, Castain was able to fend off the defender, turn and fire the shot into the back of the net for what would be the final goal of her high school soccer career and the title-winner.
“It’s the most amazing feeling in the world, especially with it being my senior year and winning it with my best friends,” Castain said. “I couldn’t be more grateful for such an amazing crowd and such amazing teammates.”
There was a moment when it looked as if the Ravens would cruise to the win after Castain scored her second goal five minutes into the second half to give Waterford a 2-0 lead. However, chaos ensued as the teams began to trade goals, combining for four total goals over the next 21 minutes of game time, resulting in a 3-3 tie.
Waterford coach Kimiko Miyashima said that the wild 21 minutes was something that the Ravens anticipated would happen in the game.
“A back-and-forth game was expected,” Miyashima said. “We entered the game ready to score and potentially be scored on, so we really thought through the process of getting up and responding. They did an amazing job staying composed and keeping the focus on winning.”
That mental preparation was key for a Waterford team that lost twice to the Winged Lions in region play but flipped the script and won the game that mattered the most in the end.
“(Rowland Hall) is a great team, and in the other games when they scored on us, we were the ones who came right back,” Castain said. “It’s always a tight game when we play them and I’m grateful for an amazing game.
“That was probably one of the best games I’ve ever played against an amazing team. You’ve just gotta keep playing regardless of the score, and that’s what we had to do.”
The last time Waterford played for a championship at Rio Tinto Stadium, Castain and her fellow seniors, who were freshmen at the time, lost to Rowland Hall. Though it took four years, the chip that the senior class carried on their shoulders fueled them and helped them get the win, Miyashima said.
“To come back to Rio Tinto their senior year, after having that chip on their shoulder from that game all those years, it’s picture-perfect,” Miyashima said. “We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Given the season that Castain and Waterford had, picture-perfect seems like a more than fitting evaluation for what was the final high school girls soccer game of 2021.