This time, Aquinas didn’t need to save itself with a goal in the closing minutes – it had to prevent one.
For the first time in the state tournament, the Fighting Irish boys soccer team had – and held – a lead for most of the second half. Aquinas went on to a 2-1 win over Providence Christian on Tuesday night that pushed the Fighting Irish through to the GHSA Class A state championship match.
The Fighting Irish will face Atlanta International on the road Friday.
After scoring a goal in the last minute to win in the first round, the Irish scored three times in the final eight minutes to beat Our Lady of Mercy in the quarterfinals.
Against the Stars, Aquinas scored two second-half goals in less then three minutes to grab the lead.
Connor Tierney’s perfect
delivery to the box allowed Marcus Wade to notch the first goal. Justin Thompson added the second after Matt Moses’ great turn and pass.
“It’s just the will and the heart in us,” Thompson said about scoring goals in quick succession.
The back-to-back strikes wiped away Providence Christian’s lead, which it got about five minutes into the match.
Earlier in the match, the Irish (16-2-1) had been close to knotting the score, but missed out on a couple of close opporunities.
After Aquinas took the lead, it remained the aggressor until Providence Christian made a late push.
But John Morris and Austin Worden anchored the defense and were there to halt rushes and block attempts, and Irish goalkeeper Will Doss was spotless in front of goal.
Providence Christian’s last real threat ended when a free kick went over the bar.
Lovering then used his body to keep possession and waste time near a corner before time ran out.
“It’s a first for me,” Aquinas coach Kevin Trammell said about coaching in the final. “This is new territory for me, but I’m extremely excited.”