Sara Geiger has earned a reputation as a demanding coach in her three seasons leading the St. Pius girls’ soccer program.
But once the work is done on the field, Geiger is known for letting her players cut loose.
Geiger and her players had the opportunity for the stress relief after a 5-0 win over Creekview on May 15 gave St. Pius its second straight Class AAA state championship. Players have been doing the electric slide as a pre-game ritual in the locker room this season, but Geiger promised she would join the team on the field for the dance if they won another state title.
“Oh, I’m a big dancer,” Geiger said. “I love to dance.”
She also loves to win. Geiger, a former soccer star at Parkview High School and Samford University, has led St. Pius to two state titles and a runner-up finish in three seasons as head coach.
The 2010 run extends the Golden Lions’ postseason shutout streak to 10 games over the past two seasons. St. Pius closed out the season with eight straight shutout wins and outscored the competition 33-0 in five state tournament games.
“She gives a lot of freedom to the team,” said senior Alexa Newfield, who had two goals and an assist in the championship match. “But she makes sure we are keeping fit and doing the things we need to do to win. It’s the best way to be – having fun and winning.”
Newfield, a University of Georgia signee, is one of eight seniors on the team who have stepped up after eight seniors graduated last season. Two others – goalkeeper Emily Cox (Alabama) and Veronica Romero (Emory) – earned scholarships this season. Seniors Rissa Rafolo, Liza Hill and Pamela Pimentel also started this season for the Golden Lions.
“Coach Geiger told (the seniors) after last season that this was our team and we had to take control,” Cox said. “We took the responsibility seriously this year and became really close as a team.”
Geiger played a part in building the chemistry with team meals and other team activities.
“We goof off and she goofs off, but we understand there is serious time and there is fun time,” Cox said. “Everything is serious when we step onto the field. But it’s nice when serious leads to fun.”
St. Pius was coming off a tough 1-0 win over Woodward Academy in the state semifinals, and it took about 10 minutes for the Golden Lions to get serious against Creekview.
“They respect me because they know I’ve been there,” Geiger said. “We have fun, but they know they’ve got to get the job done.”
The defense and Cox thwarted a couple of Creekview scoring chances in the opening minutes before the offense took control.
Kelsey Keown scored twice and Caroline Wooten added a goal as the Golden Lions led 3-0 at halftime. Newfield scored twice in the first 20 minutes of the second half to put the game away.
St. Pius finished the season 17-4-1 and outscored opponents 60-0 during its eight-game winning streak. And with a solid group coming up next season, there’s no reason for Geiger to believe the fun won’t continue next season.
“We have a good group of girls in middle school and on the junior varsity,” Geiger said. “And when you start winning, people want to come play. And it’s not just about soccer. “We’re a big family at St. Pius.”