The First Presbyterian Christian Academy girls’ soccer team’s quest for a second-straight state title ended Tuesday with a 2-0 loss to Sherwood Academy in Albany.
The Lady ’Landers were playing against a much-older, more-experienced Sherwood squad. FPCA coach Tom Sukaratana said he knew Sherwood would be a big challenge, as its top player already has earned a scholarship to Darton State College in Albany. He said both teams played exceptional defense, with Sherwood allowing only three shots on goal and FPCA allowing nine.
“It was a very good game,” Sukaratana said, adding that Sherwood scouted his team as it played LaGrange last week.
Sukaratana said that up until the loss, the Georgia Independent School Association Class AA soccer coaches had the Lady ’Landers ranked No. 1.
“We were No. 1, and (Sherwood was) No. 3 or 4,” he said. “But they had so much talent.”
The coach said the teams were scoreless at halftime. Sherwood scored halfway through the second half. FPCA nearly tied the game, but was called offside. Sherwood scored an insurance goal near the end.
The Lady ’Landers didn’t get another berth in the state-title game, but they far exceeded expectations considering about 15 players from last year’s team moved away or transferred. Sukaratana had four seniors, two juniors, one sophomore, three freshmen and five eighth-graders to work with.
“We gave it all we had,” Sukaratana said. “I would never trade this team for any team. I am very proud of them all. They did a fantastic job.”
With such a young team and many projected returners, the FPCA girls’ future looks promising. In the present day, however, the FPCA program still has a shot at a state title this year.
The boys’ team will play for a state championship against arch-rival Frederica Academy at 8 p.m. Saturday on St. Simons Island. Last year, Frederica beat the Highlanders in the title game, but this year FPCA, with 11 seniors, may boast a stronger team.