After South Dade had defeated Ferguson 4-3 on Friday night at Milander Park to earn its first girls’ soccer GMAC title, the Bucs players sprinted in a mad dash to embrace each other.
Jade Hayes, the Bucs’ leading scorer and a tri-captain, reached the celebration eventually — but only on the back and shoulders of teammate Alejandra Loboguerrero.
Hayes, who had one goal and one assist in the first half, later injured her right knee, a potentially crushing blow to what so far has been a dream season for the Bucs (15-1-2).
“This was a huge victory,” Bucs coach Erin Shelow said of the win over the 2012 GMAC champs. “But it could turn out to be a big loss [because of the injury].”
Sophomore McKenzie VanHeusen was the hero for South Dade, scoring three goals, including two after Hayes got hurt.
Hayes was injured when she went up in the air going for a ball against a defender from Ferguson (15-4-1).
“I think her foot hit my knee,” Hayes said. “I have a cleat mark right there. It’s painful, a bit swollen, but the victory kind of covers it up.”
The severity of the injury won’t be determined until at least Saturday, but here’s what we do know: These Bucs don’t quit, even when they fall behind.
The Bucs rallied to defeat Palmetto in the GMAC semifinal, and they did it again Friday. Ferguson took a 1-0 lead on a first-minute goal by freshman Nicole Rafols.
And after Hayes tied it seven minutes later, Ferguson took its second lead on an 11th-minute goal by Isa Jara.
Ferguson nearly added to its lead, but Jessica Suarez’s booming shot hit the left post. The Bucs tied the score just four minutes before halftime when Hayes assisted on a VanHeusen goal.
Hayes’ injury happened in the first minute of the second half with the score tied 2-2. VanHeusen, though, responded by completing her hat trick.
“When Jade got hurt, it brought us down a bit because she’s our top scorer,” VanHeusen said. “When she goes out, it’s not a good thing, but we held ourselves together. We knew we had to win for her.”
The victory nearly slipped away when Ferguson’s Ana Jenkins scored in the 76th minute off the hands of Bucs goalie Andrea Bueno, but South Dade held on, setting up Hayes’ piggy-back ride to midfield.
“We say it all the time in our huddle — ‘let’s be that comeback team,’’’ Hayes said.
“All our girls are so talented individually, and we have heart as a team.”