MACON, Ga. — The Augusta Prep girls soccer team spoiled Stratford’s try at a 15th and final GISA state championship, winning 2-0 on Saturday to claim the Class AAA title.
The Lady Cavaliers got a pair of first-half goals from junior Caroline Smith, which turned out to be enough for Augusta Prep’s first girls title in a match played at Mount de Sales’ Cavalier Fields.
The Eagles, who will compete in the GHSA next year, finished their season at 14-2, with both losses coming against Augusta Prep
(15-0-1). Stratford entered 2014 having lost nine seniors from a class that had won three state titles in four seasons.
“I think you saw in the second half the fight that we have had all year to get to this point,” Stratford head coach Andrew Myler said. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t get it done, but I felt like we had a great year. They battled to the end and I’m proud of them.”
Less than three minutes into the game, Smith came up with a loose ball near the scoring box and made the Eagles pay, blasting the ball past Stratford goalkeeper Morgan Maier for a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles were unable to get into much of an offensive rhythm in the first half. Their long-ball strategy to move the ball toward the Augusta Prep net was bottled up by the Lady Cavaliers, who also controlled the offensive end with high-precision passing to control possession.
The result was minimal scoring chances for Stratford in addition to no shots on goal in the first half.
Stratford fell behind 2-0 with 9:06 to go before halftime as Smith took an assist from Banks Collier to score from the top of the box.
The Eagles kept the Cavaliers off the scoreboard in the second half and altered their offensive strategy and were able to generate scoring chances. Those chances, however, were denied by Augusta Prep.
“I knew they’d be fired up in the second half,” Augusta Prep head coach Tom Norton said of Stratford. “We kind of hung in there like we had done all year.”
Less than six minutes into the second half, Aysha Roberts set up Hope Hays, but her shot was blocked by Augusta Prep goalkeeper Tori Williams.
A few minutes later, a crossing pass from Shelby Walker was placed in front of the net with Hays narrowly missing tapping the ball in for a score. Hays also had a scoring with just over 21 minutes to play that was stopped by Williams.
“We had a couple of chances. If we could have gotten one of those, it would have gone down to the wire at the end,” Myles said.