The Hinesville Gators 14U girls’ soccer team earned its second consecutive Georgia Recreation and Parks Association District II soccer championship Sunday at Stone Mountain. Sixteen teams competed for three spots at the state championship finals that will take place this weekend in Columbus.
The Gators faced JCB in their first game of the tournament Saturday. The Gators fell, 3-0, on penalty kicks.
“I was shocked and disappointed because this was not their normal style of play,” Gators coach Karen Higgason said.
The loss placed the Gators at the bottom of the bracket, and Higgason said she knew they would have to fight their way back into the competition.
Higgason, the only female coach in the tourney, said she felt intimidated at first but quickly made adjustments before her team faced team AFU.
“They knew they had to win every game from here on out to make it to state,” Higgason said.
Myesha Robinson and Alyssa Anderson got offensive help from teammates Cortney Welch, Alondra Lopez, Nakia Hunter, Elise Letnaunchyn, Rebecca Loury and Alicia Mccray, allowing the girls to win, 3-0.
The girls faced their biggest rival, the Effingham Cyclones, on Sunday morning.
“We were at the bottom of the bracket with points, so we had to not only beat Effingham, but JCB, who beat us earlier, would have to tie or lose so that the Gator girls would have more points,” Higgason said.
Defenders Catherine Wood, Kaylyn McEwin, Jada Key and Megan Higgason along with goalie Summer Mehalko blanked Effingham, and Robinson scored the game’s only goal as Hinesville won, 1-0.
JCB tied its match, allowing the Gators to advance to the championship game. The Gators beat NGSA Lady Rapids, 2-0, on goals from Robinson and Anderson.
“I knew this was going to be a very hard team,” Higgason said. “We were playing a team that had lost zero games the whole weekend.”
Now, the Gators will represent Liberty County at the state finals.
“We will face our most aggressive competitor, the Jaguars,” Higgason said. “I believe in my girls. I have been coaching them for three years now, and all three years we have made it to state. I hope my players come to the fields and play with the skills that I know they have and with their hearts. When this group of ladies pour their hearts into a game, it is an amazing thing to watch.”