The Lady Highlanders added another accolade to their list of achievements this season.
Monday, they beat Frederica 3-2 on St. Simons Island in the teams’ second match and final game of the regular season. In their first meeting at home, FPCA beat Frederica 2-0. This time the Highlanders faced an extremely aggressive Frederica team that was playing in front of a home crowd assembled for Frederia’s Senior Night.
The Frederica Lady Knights came out hard from the first whistle. Bulldozing their way through the Lady Highlanders in the first half, it appeared the game plan was to win by roughing up the Lady ’Landers.
Few fouls were called, and the Lady Knights’ strategy was successful for a while. The Lady ’Landers were having trouble adjusting to Frederica’s style and when the half ended the Lady Knights were up 2-0.
However, after the half, the Lady Highlanders regrouped. With coach Tom Sukaratana reminding them to "Remember who we are and how we play," the Lady ’Landers came into the second half energized and looking confident despite the score.
Within 10 minutes, FPCA put up three goals.
Auset Gibbs scored first off a back-heel pass from Cecilia Graham, drilling the ball into the net. A few minutes later, Mercedes Buckley nailed the back of the net off an assist by Cassandra Ruff.
A few more minutes, Buckley was again in the Frederica box ready to score. In response, a Frederica player fouled Buckley and she was taken down. A penalty was awarded.
Graham took the penalty kick and scored the final goal in the game.
After the ’Landers took the lead, the defense went on high alert. The game got more aggressive as Frederica desperately tried to come back.
Sukaratana said keeper Helana Scott had "the game of her life," stopping every Frederica attempt for a goal.
In the last three minutes seven fouls were called against the Highlanders, giving Frederica numerous attempts to score.
The Lady ’Landers kept their heads, despite numerous foul calls against them.
With the win, the Lady Highlanders won the region title. This is the second time the Lady ’Landers have battled their way back and won from a 2-point deficit in a championship game.
Earlier this season, FPCA won the Sherwood tournament in Albany after a comeback in the championship game.
The region championship puts the Lady Landers at the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. They are on a 20-0 win streak. FPCA will host the first round of the playoffs on Friday at James Brown Park. They will face Heritage Christian (No. 4 seed), from Newnan. Game begins at 5 p.m.
The Highlanders (No. 4 seed) will travel Saturday to Newnan to face Heritage (No. 1 seed). Game time is at 5:30 p.m.