Wakeland was facing heartbreak for the second consecutive season in the Class 5A state championship match on Saturday when it trailed Grapevine 2-0 late in regulation.
But the Wolverines refused to accept that fate and senior Cori Cochran led the charge, scoring a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes to tie it up, as Wakeland would go on to claim a 3-2 victory to capture the program’s third state title.
Cochran, a senior, was deservedly selected as the game’s most valuable player.
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SLM: What was going through your mind in the second half and overtime on Saturday?
CC: After being down by two goals in the second half, there was a lot of stress and doubt going through my mind. After making it to the state championship game, I was worried that we would come up short after working hard all year. After I scored the two goals that allowed us to tie the game before the second half was up, I knew that we were not done yet and meant to come out on top. Going into overtime was stressful because we knew all we needed was one goal, but so did Grapevine. Both teams had multiple chances to be ahead, but we knew it was our game after Bella had scored the header.
SLM: Wakeland has a deep history of success. Do you feel any additional pressure because the expectations are so high?
CC: Going into the playoffs, there was a lot of pressure. After the team came up short last year in the state championship game, we wanted to prove to ourselves and others that we were fully capable of coming out on top. The sports at Wakeland have been very successful over the past few years, and we wanted to continue to add to that.
SLM: How would you describe the bond you have with this team?
CC: The bond I have with the team is like no other. I have built such strong friendships, and they have become some of my best friends. I know I can always rely on them, and they will always be there if something is needed. We all depend on each other and have built such strong trust and loyalty within one another. This team has been the best team to be a part of, and although I am leaving, I know that being separated will not break the bonds I have built.
SLM: After coming so close last season, what were the emotions when y’all were able to lift the state championship trophy?
CC: Although I did not play last year when the team came up short, I felt the disappointment and sadness they had felt. That was all able to change this year when we became state champions. After rushing the field and all coming together to celebrate, there were smiles and lots of tears of joy. We were beyond excited to know that our hard work had paid off, and being able to lift that trophy high and proud was hands down the best feeling.
SLM: What are your plans for the future, both on and off the field?
CC: After I graduate, I am attending the University of Arkansas to major in marketing. I am also finishing my last club soccer season, which has been a big part of my life. Sadly, I will not be playing soccer at the collegiate level, but I hope to stay involved with the sport through clubs or intramurals provided at my school.
SLM: What has being a part of this Wakeland program meant to you?
CC: Being a part of Wakeland Girls Soccer has meant so much to me. It has been a big part of my high school career as I was part of it three out of the four years. It has taught me so much and allowed me to become a stronger person and player on and off the field. I have met many great people along the way and have made so many memories that will last a lifetime.