Amazing. Unbelievable. Incredible.
Those are a few of the words that were repeated by Ravenwood players and coaches Saturday. For the first time, the Lady Raptors captured the TSSAA Class AAA Girls State Soccer Championship. And they did it by beating region rival Brentwood – a previously unbeaten team that had defeated Ravenwood in all three prior matchups this season and had allowed just three goals all season entering the title match.
“We talked about this going into state that this could be a potential matchup and they continued to fight for it,” said Ravenwood coach Brandon Mead after his team stunned the Lady Bruins 3-2 at Page High School. “We did it. We pulled it off. I’m speechless. Absolutely amazing.”
“I mean, holy cow!” Ravenwood senior Faith Vanston added. “I can’t believe we won. That was crazy. It was awesome and just the best game ever.”
Vanston said the pressure was all on Brentwood entering the match. The Lady Bruins boasted a 16-0 record and had tipped the Lady Raptors 2-0 on Sept. 19. They won the District 11-AAA title 2-1 on Oct. 17 against Ravenwood and beat the Lady Raptors 1-0 for the Region 6-AAA championship on Oct. 24.
“We had nothing to lose,” said Vanston, who didn’t allow a goal in a 1-0 semifinal win against two-time defending champion Houston in the semifinals. “We knew after beating Houston, we were confident and we knew we were capable that we could beat (Brentwood). … We knew we were going to win.”
“We all got in the bus when we got here and said we are not walking off unless we win,” Ravenwood senior Tori Case said. “We fought to the very, very end. They are such a good team and for us to be able to do that is just crazy.
“Its incredible and I have no words. For us to do this this year with this group of girls, it’s so perfect.”
Ravenwood didn’t have the best start in the championship played at Page High School’s turf field after the TSSAA moved four of the five championship matches from Murfreesboro’s Richard Siegel Soccer Complex because of field conditions.
Brentwood struck early when Olivia Olmstead scored in the 8th minute. The Lady Bruins produced three other good looks, but Vanston held steady the rest of the half. Ravenwood emerged much more determined in the second half.
“They came out strong,” Brentwood senior Elle Scott said. “I think they put us on our heels and it became a back and forth match. I wish we could have created more and got up, but sometimes it doesn’t work like that.”
Case tied the match at 1-1 by netting the equalizer on a free kick in the 55th. Just over three minutes later, Marcela Forero Pretto – who scored the lone goal in that 1-0 semifinal win – tracked down a long ball from Mia Fraser and sent a booming right-footed kick on the run from about 30 yards out that sailed high and curved into the upper left of the goal for a 2-1 Lady Raptor edge.
MURFREESBORO – Marcela Forero Pretto knew she had just one more opportunity late in Thursday…
Brentwood senior Emma Majors had a header attempt just to the outside of the right post in the 62nd as the Lady Bruins attack regrouped. Senior Morgan Greene sent a shot toward the far post from the right side. The ball banged off a Lady Raptor and into the goal to knot the match at 2-2 in the 64th.
Case had a shot saved by Brentwood keeper Kate Devine and Olmstead fired wide right from the top of the box in the next couple minutes before senior Courtney Hill provided the goal of the match.
In the 68th, Anna Jahr sent a corner and Hill placed a right-footed, one-touch volley to the upper left so quickly that everyone else was still flat-footed as the ball arched over the defense and fell near the left post.
“It’s really hard to believe,” Hill said. “I can’t even express my emotions right now. It was an amazing feeling.
“I’m just so happy we were able to prove we got what it takes to beat Brentwood. … I love this team.”
Mead called Hill’s game-winner a “storybook ending.” He said the senior didn’t get a lot of minutes early this season but asked how to be on the field more and worked hard to play more.
“She continued to work hard and she continued to fight and she did it the right way,” he said. “She progressively got more minutes and had some great goals throughout the season. And she had a game-winner in the state final. Unbelievable. That’s just incredible.”
MURFREESBORO – Temperatures hovered in the low upper 40s. Rain constantly fell and the occas…
Ravenwood was making its seventh state appearance. They fell to Houston in the semifinals last season and also dropped a championship match against the Lady Mustangs in the 2013 final – the Lady Raptors only other championship appearance. Brentwood was trying to complete a perfect season and win a third title and its first since 2012.
“From our standout, we beat them three times, so we kind of thought we have this in the bag,” Scott said. “That was not good for us and that showed a little bit.
“I’m still proud of our team, this is just one game. Unfortunately, it was the state championship, but we won a lot of others. We won districts, regular season, regions and everything. I think we needed to step up a little harder, but we didn’t and that happens sometimes.”