After being denied the Georgia Independent School Association Class AA state title last year, the First Presbyterian Christian Academy girls’ soccer team wasn’t about to let another chance to earn the crown slip away.
The Lady ’Landers topped Monsignor Academy, 3-0, for the championship trophy on Saturday at Frederica Academy on St. Simons Island.
It was the Lady ’Landers’ 11th shutout this season en route to the state title game, earning an overall 11-1 season record and 6-0 Region 2-AA mark. They went 4-0 in the playoffs for the title.
However, it wasn’t a sweep Saturday for FPCA. The Highlander boys’ team fell, 7-0, to Frederica on Saturday in the boys’ title game.
Highlander soccer coach Tom Sukaratana said the girls’ contest was a great defensive game, adding that his girls played physical and controlled the tempo of the game.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more from these girls,” he said. “We had to play without Asyria Daniels, who was injured at the state track meet, and I had to change some personnel, but all our players, including our eighth- and ninth-graders, played well and physical.”
Elaina Peterson scored the first goal, giving the Lady ’Landers a 1-0 lead at the half. Sukaratana said he made a few more lineup changes to secure a shutout in the second half and keep Monsignor from scoring.
“Asyria is normally my sweeper, but I moved Brooke Standard back there in the second half and she cleaned everything up,” he said. “We could have run up some more goals, but I just wanted to secure the game and get the shutout.” In the second half, Myesha Robinson scored a goal, and later, eighth-grader Auset Gibbs scored the final goal, which Sukaratana called a goal by chance.
“She kicked the ball, and it must have gone 40 feet in the air,” he said. “It came down, bounced and hit the goal post and bounced into the net for the score.”
The girls celebrated the win, and then turned their attention to rooting for the Highlander boys against host school Frederica. The Knights beat the Highlanders twice during the regular season.
Sukaratana knew it would be a challenge and that things might not go as planned when roughly 18 minutes into the game a referee red-carded sophomore Highlander goalie Joshua Kuhns, resulting in Kuhns’ ejection.
Kuhns reacted with emotion and pain when a Knight slid into him cleats-first, injuring him. In pain, Kuhns tossed the soccer ball, which inadvertently hit the Knight.
“He didn’t intentionally throw the ball at the player,” Sukaratana said. “He was in pain and happened to throw the ball … the player was about a foot away from him and it hit him.”
The ejection also gave the Knights a one-man advantage for 27 minutes, yet the Highlanders fought every step of the way, trailing only 1-0 at the half.
“I have to give credit to my boys. They played with heart,” Sukaratana said.
But the Knights started to pull ahead in the second half to take over.
The FPCA boys’ team finished 11-3 overall, 4-2 in the region and 3-1 in the playoffs.
Sukaratana was in Macon on Tuesday, awaiting word on which FPCA players received All-Region recognition. The Courier will print the results once they become available.