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Landy 'Landers miss title; shatter season records
Members of the FPCA Lady Highlanders pose for a photo at Mercer Universitys Five Start Stadium. - photo by Photo provided.

The First Presbyterian Christian Academy varsity girls soccer team lost to Augusta Prep 5-1 in the state final Saturday in Macon. However the FPCA girls still managed to shatter school records for the season.

They scored 129 goals while allowing only 18, scored 15 shutouts and had a 23-game winning streak. Their only loss was the state title game. They are also the only Class A school that has made it to the state final.

Seven players were named to the All Region Team; Cecilia Graham, Auset Gibbs, Mary Kathryn Whitney, Cassandra Ruff, Madison Buckley, Mercedes Buckley and Mackenzie Buckley.

FPCA earned a berth in the championship bt beating Trinity Friday in the final four game.

The Landers trailed 1-0 at the half. In the second half Graham scored the first goal for the Highlanders on a free kick. That changed the momentum of the game. Within minutes the girls were on a scoring blitz.

Gibbs, Ruff and Graham had one goal each, Buckley scored two goals.

After the win Friday, the girls had to return to Hinesville for graduation at 9 a.m. Saturday and then drive back to Macon for the Saturday afternoon final.

Also Buckley took an injury to her ankle. She was cleared, but played limited minutes.

Saturday, The Landers were down 1-0 when lightning delayed the game for almost three hours.

When the game resumed, the Highlanders came out energized. Within a couple of minutes, Gibbs sent the ball to Graham, who took it into the far corner, Graham crossed the ball to the front of the goal to Buckley who volleyed it in for the tie.

An Augusta Prep player took Madison Buckley out from behind, yet avoided a foul call. A minute later, a Lady ‘Lander earned a foul, giving Augusta Prep a free kick and goal.

Fatigue, injuries and a foul out meant the Lady ‘Landers were down a few starting defenders on the field.

Prep took advantage, splitting the defense and kicking in the next three goals in the final minutes.

Buckley had the one goal and Graham the assist.

The last time the Highlander girls made it to the state final was in 2013, taking their class state title. This was the first year when all classifications were combined in the playoffs.

Coach Tom Sukaratana said making it to the state finals and having to play against much larger schools to get there shows how talented and determined this team was. He said it was the first year since soccer was combined statewide that a single A school made the final four or state final.

FPCA Soccer Roster:

Cecilia Graham

Mary Kathryn Whitney

Auset Gibbs

Cassandra Ruff

Madison Buckley

Mercedes Buckley

Mackenzie Buckley

Kasey Caines

Miranda Wells

Gizangely Marrero

Helana Scott

Breanna Finif

Sasha Hatfield

Mackenzie McCartney

Alicia Jones

Molly Strickland

Jelissa Estrada

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