TSSAA Division II-A Championship

Championship Soccer: BGA stops CPA for DII-A title in region battle

Lady Wildcats strike fast, end Lady Lions unbeaten streak at 38

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-2019 Championship Soccer – Battle Ground Academy vs. Christ Presbyterian Academy, Division II-A

MURFREESBORO – The Battle Ground Academy girls needed a flawless performance Friday to defeat region soccer rival Christ Presbyterian Academy.

The Lady Lions entered as the defending TSSAA Division II-A champions and boasted a perfect 17-0 record with an unbeaten streak that stayed steady for 743 days. They outscored BGA 6-1 in two matches this season.

“Each time we played CPA, it seemed like, gosh, this is a mountain that we cannot get over,” Lady Wildcats coach Jan Morrissey said. Her team was 0-5-1 against CPA since the Lady Lions reclassified and joined the DII-A Middle Region in 2017 and had not beaten CPA on the pitch since 2011.

That all changed Friday at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex.

Freshman Eva Schreiber scored twice early, and the Lady Wildcats stunned the Lady Lions 4-1 to capture the state championship. The BGA girls hoisted the DII-A trophy for the first time since 2014 and finally had their breakthrough against one of the top teams in the state.

“That was the most amazing moment this year, by far, not just high school soccer, but it’s the best feeling,” said BGA sophomore Kennedy Price, who fully embodied the determination the Lady Wildcats thrived on throughout the match. “All your work, from the beginning of July, to preseason, all the fitness you’re doing, it all pays off.

“And you know you did it with your best friends standing right by you and supporting you.”

Schreiber said she surprised herself when her first tally in the 11th minute slipped past CPA keeper Mary Carter Logan. Logan had just deflected a shot from Keaton Mitchell and then repositioned to try and block an attempt from her right side, but the BGA youngster still found a seam.

“When I scored, it was unexpected,” the freshman said. “I didn’t think it was going to go in, and then it did. It’s a really good feeling, motivating your team.”

After a BGA corner attempt in the 16th minute, Price sent a hard ball back in front of the goal that actually banged off a Lady Lion for the second score and a 2-0 Lady Wildcats advantage. CPA entered allowing just six goals all season and forfeited multiple scores in just four contests over the last 38 matches.

The Lady Lions tried to regroup with back-to-back looks from Emmaline Bartlett and Caroline Betts in the 18th minute, but a BGA counter attack led to another corner attempt. Senior Scout Speer then connected with Schreiber in front of the right post for a perfectly placed header and a 3-0 lead in the 20th.

“We did everything we were supposed to and we came together as one,” said Price, who shadowed Betts all match. “I think that was the most important thing in this game, we have to do this as one and the energy has to be there from the very beginning. The last couple times we played them, we didn’t come out as strong, but this time we came out and laid everything on the field and left nothing here.”

CPA coach Tom Gerlach applauded the BGA performance. After the trophy presentations, he even went over to the Lady Wildcats and personally congratulated the team.

“They did a phenomenal job,” he said. “This is absolutely not how I would have scripted it, but hats off to BGA. It’s been 743 days since this team lost. That’s something they can be really proud of.

“Anytime you play these kind of games, sometimes a ball deflects wide, sometimes it deflects near, and you know, the first goal was a deflection, the second goal, we just missed a kick, and that’s the agony of soccer.”

Gerlach’s girls still battled right to the end, but so did BGA.

Sophomore Alyssa White, playing on a bum leg for the third match in a row, converted in the 55th minute on another ball from Speer for a 4-0 lead. In goal, sophomore Gracie Semptimphelter continued to shine in her recent return from a broken hand, making nine saves on the night for BGA.

“Alyssa gave us everything she had and limped all the way through these last few games,” Morrissey said. “And to have Gracie Semptimphelter come back in goal for us was just huge. … You can’t write stories this good. It’s very, very surreal.”

Betts finally broke through in the 71st minute after Virginia Glisson swiped a ball near midfield and fed CPA’s leading scorer on the right side, who dribbled and blasted a rocket over the outstretched arms of Semptimphelter. Betts managed one more look the rest of the way, but BGA held steady.

CPA out-shot BGA 18-14, including 10-7 in the second half.

“This time around, there was a little but more motivation and inspiration,” Morrissey said. “CPA was five goals better than us until tonight.

“They are a very quality side, and they are very young. I know we will see CPA again, and I know that each time, it’s going to be an absolute battle.”

The Lady Wildcats were the only team to stretch CPA to the limit last season in a 1-1 regular season tie. The Lady Lions came back for a 5-0 win against BGA in the region championship en route to closing 19-0-1 on the season with the 2018 title. This year, BGA battled in a 3-1 regular season loss on Sept. 19. Betts was the difference in the region semifinals on Oct. 17 when she scored all three goals in an otherwise tightly contested match. 

Gerlach returns his entire 2019 roster next season. Both coaches expect entertaining meetings in the future.  

“This is just game that teaches you life lessons,” he said. “Sometimes, they are really hard to learn, but your character is tested in these moments.

“I’m friends with (coach Morrissey). She is just a fantastic coach. She got them rocking and they won it. Good job for them.”

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