IRMO – The strong schedule for the first season resulted in a 0-3-1 record for the Saint Joseph girls’ soccer team. However, the defending Class AA champions persevered, and the reward was the second trophy.
The Knights defeated Christ Episcopal School 2-0 Saturday in the state title match. Billy Manfredi and freshman Caroline Getz both scored points for St. Joseph.
“We challenged ourselves early, played 5A schools, and just kept getting better and better,” said St Joseph coach Rick Morris. “It definitely paid off.”
In a competitive game between Greenville Private School District competitors, the Cavaliers (13-4-1) deprived the Cavaliers (17-2) of their first title since 2012. The Cavaliers fell to the state semifinals in 2021.
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“My girls played with hearts for 80 minutes and they never quit,” CCES coach Ashley Seely said. “We’re losing two seniors. We’ll be back.”
The Knights, who have nine top players on their roster, held the ball at the end of the field at Christ Church for most of the first 10 minutes, but weren’t able to make many scoring opportunities. Joseph’s defense several times over the next 10 minutes, but the shots were still tough for both teams.
“We couldn’t finish,” Seely said.
17 minutes before the end of the match, Ansley Eppley sent a direct free kick to Saint Joseph goalkeeper Maggie Peterson. The procedure is then built to the other end of the field.
14 minutes before the end of the first half, Manfredi got a free kick. She bombarded her serve hard and low, edging past Lauren on Monday, goalkeeper Jasmine Ford and inside the far post to take a 1-0 lead.
“That’s kind of my sweet spot,” Manfredi said of the location of her kick, just outside the left point of the 18-yard square. “But winning the game takes more than one person.”
The Knights had two more chances in the last five minutes of the game. Manfredi made a shot from the corner and two crossed over the post. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers were unable to create good scoring opportunities when they grabbed the ball at the end of St. Joseph.
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“We’re a great passing team, but we haven’t found any footing,” said CCES’s young midfielder, Maggie Rogers.
Six minutes into the second half, the Knights put the match away.
Lily Van Pelt sent a long pass to the CCES central defender which was traced back to team-mate Getz. Getz hit a low shot to the left of Ford to lead 2-0.
“In a lot of previous games, we’ve been in situations like this, so we’ve been prepared for them,” Getz said. “These seniors deserve another win.”
Morris said the secret to St. Joseph’s defense was his backline, which was reinforced by the addition of Brian Bessinger.
“We haven’t scored any goals in the past 10 matches,” he said. “Today went kind of the way I expected.”
The Cavaliers lost to the Academic Magnet in the 2017 state title match. The Cavaliers also won the SC High School League title in 2001. He has 10 runner-up positions, including four in a row from 2013-16.
The Cavaliers’ only pre-game loss was against Riverside in the last game of the regular season. The Knights qualified for the finals thanks to three straight qualifiers, where they outperformed their opponents 28-0.