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High School Soccer

Soccer: Ravenwood strikes twice in 2nd half to earn state berth

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Sectional Soccer – Hendersonville at Ravenwood

Lauren Hiatt and her teammates celebrate her goal in the 49th. 

BRENTWOOD – It was a bit emotional after the girls soccer sectional match at Ravenwood High School Saturday night. But, they were happy tears.

The two-time defending Class AAA state champions are headed back to the state tournament and for the Ravenwood High School seniors, it’s a fourth consecutive trip to the spotlight stage. The team huddled a bit longer than usual after the match.

“I guess I was crying because I just love this. I just love this team so much,” said Lady Raptors senior Lauren Hiatt, who broke the seal in a physical match with Hendersonville with a goal in the 49th minute. “I’m so excited that we get to keep moving on one more time because I just can’t imagine this being over yet.”

Ravenwood advanced with a 2-0 victory, scoring both goals in the second half of another slugfest with the Sumner County-based Lady Commandos.

Hiatt’s goal provided a huge relief for Ravenwood, which exhaustedly held Hendersonville in check after claiming a 4-3 win early in the regular season against the same team. To add to the challenge, Ravenwood senior leader Sarah Kate Rath exited midway through the first 40 with an injury and didn’t return.

“The first half really wasn’t our greatest, but we all talked at halftime and decided we just want to do this for our seniors because it’s their last home game,” Lady Raptor keeper Lexi Grundler said. “The second half is where we shined and we put our hearts on the line and we worked for each other and I think that’s what this season has been all about.”

Grundler, Hiatt and Ally Brown held down the back line for Ravenwood with Hiatt and Brown both pushing forward for offensive opportunities as well. Hiatt had two other shots prior to her tally.

“I really was shaking afterward,” Hiatt said of her goal. “As a defender, I just don’t score a lot. When I shot it, I saw it curving in and was just so excited. I saw the space and just thought, ‘I have to take this.’

“It was what we needed to get everyone’s energy up.”

Hendersonville’s Liza Sircy broke through for a couple looks, including a lofted shot from the top of the box in the 63rd saved by Grundler.

Freshman Ali Fletcher provided the insurance goal for Ravenwood in the 75th. The youngster showed patience by tracking down a long ball, working across the front of the goal from right to left against a defender before finding a seam.

Ravenwood coach Jessica Mancini credited her seniors like Hiatt for setting a determined tone for her younger players to follow.

“We’ve got a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the field and them seeing a senior take the initiative and going with it, I think that helps all our confidence,” Mancini said, adding how her team shifted to a 4-4-2 after the break to better assure her midfielders without Rath in the lineup.

The second-year head coach said her team knew the challenge this season presented having lost a huge chunk of the 2019 and 2020 championship teams to graduation as well as just playing within Williamson County.

“You just never know if you're going to make it out of here or not, especially coming from Williamson County, and you have know clue what the season’s going to look like regardless of how your squad looks,” she said. “The girls knew they’d have to push through the county. They had to push through Hendersonville tonight.

“This senior group has never not made it to state. To get there again for this group, it means everything to them.”

The state tournament begins Wednesday in Murfreesboro. The Lady Raptors, who defeated Brentwood in 2019 in the final and Franklin last year, will be joined by Region 6-AAA runner-up Nolensville on the state stage this season.

The Lady Knights, playing in their first season in Class AAA, defeated Station Camp Saturday 2-1 to advance as well. 

Both Ravenwood and Nolensville met for the volleyball state championship on Friday. 

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