Having just witnessed their soccer teams win back-to-back championships, some St. Pius students and fans could no longer hold back their enthusiasm.
Dozens of fans ignored the public address announcer’s pleas and rushed onto the field after the St. Pius boys beat Woodward Academy 5-4 on May 14 to win the Class AAA state title. A couple of hours earlier, the Golden Lions girls’ team blanked Woodward Academy 4-0 for their third straight championship. It was the second time in three seasons that St. Pius has swept the AAA soccer titles.
Boys coach David O’Shea, soaking wet after he was doused with a bucket of water in celebration, surveyed the frenetic scene from the field.
“We have a terrific fan base,” O’Shea said. “Look at the type of atmosphere this creates for our school. We’ve developed a great tradition here.”
While the outcome of the girls’ game was never in question, the boys battled back from an early 2-0 deficit. Tyler Alexander scored two goals during a four-goal surge in a 10-minute span that put the Golden Lions ahead 4-2 at halftime. A second-half goal by Alex Kowalski made it 5-2, but St. Pius weathered a comeback as Woodward’s Cameron Mosley scored his third goal of the game to cut the lead to 5-4 with 22 minutes to play. Drew Morgan and Sam Bonnie also scored goals for St. Pius.
The win was another chapter in a building rivalry between the two private schools. It was the third straight time the two teams have met in the state playoffs with St. Pius (20-0-1) winning a quarterfinals match in 2009 and Woodward winning in the semifinals last season.
Of the 14 goals allowed by the Golden Lions this season, Woodward scored six in two games. Senior goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton earned 13 shutouts and has signed a scholarship to Penn State University.
“We’re two of the top teams in Georgia right now so that’s going to add to the anticipation,” O’Shea said. “It definitely makes it sweeter to beat [Woodward] in the finals.”
While the boys’ team was embroiled in a shootout, the St. Pius girls added another shutout to their playoff resume. The St. Pius girls’ (19-2-1) extended their streak of postseason shutouts to 15 games over the past three seasons. The win in the finals was the Golden Lions’ seventh straight shutout of the season.
Tiffany Rodriguez, Diana Solaga, Kelsey Keown and Kaitlyn Orman scored the goals for St. Pius. As they had done in the previous four playoffs games, the Golden Eagles used their speed and aggressive play to create plays on both ends of the field.
“Speed has been our biggest advantage this season,” girls coach Sara Geiger said. “We have speed all over the field and a lot of people have stepped up all season, from the starters to girls coming off the bench.”
Five of St. Pius’ six seniors have signed scholarships—Keown, Rhodes College; Bryana Gold, Villanova; Grace Raines, The Citadel; Andrea Papania, University of Dallas; and Elizabeth Kinsel, Georgia State.
“To be able to end my high school career with another state championship is an amazing feeling,” Gold said. “We have so much faith in each other and we have a wonderful group of freshmen.”
St. Pius’ depth was evident as three of the goal scorers were underclassmen. For Orman, the lone freshman to score for the Golden Eagles, the aftermath of the victory gave her a chance for reflection and to look to the future.
“Words can’t describe how it feels,” Orman said. “We’ve worked hard all year and we’ve been doing this for the seniors. We wanted to give them a three-peat. Now we have so much to live up to.”