05/28/2019 9:50 AM
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With rain just starting to lightly fall, Kyle Myers looked for his opportunity early in a faceoff scrum in the fourth quarter of Sunday's NCAA Division III national championship game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Once he saw his chance, the Cabrini LSM and Leading Edge 2016 alum by way of Johnson sprung into action, corralling a ground ball and sprinting downfield. He didn't miss his chance, either, firing home a goal that gave the Cavaliers a four-goal lead. The goal came 10 seconds after Cabrini had scored and it was the Cavaliers' third goal in 59 seconds, and it was at that point that Myers knew that Cabrini would be celebrating.
"I was open in the middle and I let it fly, and luckily, the goalie only got a little bit of it. Right after I scored that goal, that seemed to be the clincher," Myers said. "The momentum was all ours and (Amherst) didn't do anything in the next four minutes. They'd get the ball and make a mistake, and we capitalized on their mistakes."
At the end of it all, Myers, fellow Leading Edge alum Matt Nestler (Chatham) and the Cavaliers were celebrating in front of the hometown crowd after a 16-12 win over the Mammoths for the first national championship in Cabrini history. Together, the Cavaliers went an incredible 22-2 and avenged their losses to York and Salisbury in the national quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. Interestingly enough, Cabrini had lost to the eventual national champions in back-to-back years prior to this one, falling to Salisbury in 2017 and Wesleyan in 2018. This time, though, the Cavaliers were the ones setting the standard.
"It's an unreal feeling, especially winning it at the Linc in what was basically a home game for us," said Myers, who finished his junior year with 57 ground balls, 24 caused turnovers, three goals and two assists. "I feel like we spoke it into existence. We've been talking about it since we were freshmen and we came up short to the national championship-winning team twice, and it seemed like this was our year. Before the season, I definitely thought that we were the team to beat."
"I said that we were going to win our freshman year and I said the same thing our sophomore year," Nestler said. "This year, I kept saying, 'I know I've been saying it before, but we're going to do it.' After we lost to Salisbury and Wesleyanm, this was it, and we just had to ask, 'are we going to get down and do the dirty work?'"
SPOILER: they did, and perhaps nobody embodied the buy-in more than Nestler. Formerly the starting goalie, he was relegated to backup duty as Riley White, whose job Nestler initially took, blossomed into one of the best goalies in the country. Instead of rocking the proverbial boat, though, Nestler took it upon himself to be an exceptional teammate and support the White. That paid off in spades.
"He was there for me when I started over him, and the way he worked and perfected his craft was incredible," Nestler said. "When I started over him, he didn't cause a fuss. He just said, 'I'm letting in too many goals,' and he was there for me, so I had to be there for him. Goalies are riding with each other, and obviously, the decision that the coaches made paid off. It was a bit of a rough patch for me at first, but I couldn't be more thankful to him and the guys. I just rode Myers' coattails to Cabrini and rode Riley's coattails to a national championship."
However you get it, the title of 'national champion' is pretty sweet.