The largest high school soccer tournament in the nation started over three weeks ago with 183 entrants. The tournament ended on Saturday April 11th with only one 4A girls team standing, the J.J. Pearce High School Lady Mustangs!
The Mustangs made the most of their first state playoff appearance Saturday, winning the UIL Girls 4A State Championship title after defeating traditional power Friendswood, 1-0 in Georgetown.
"We couldn't be more proud of these young ladies," said RISD Superintendent David Simmons. "They represented their school and community extremely well, both on and off the field."
It took a total of 8 wins with the Mustangs putting 26 total goals in the net and only allowing 2 goals in the entire tournament to seal the victories.
Game seven which was the State semi-final was played in Georgetown against Boerne Champion. Boerne scored first off a set penalty play and temporarily had the Mustang fans feeling some doubt. Brooke Johnston erased any doubts with one of the best shots of her career. With just seven seconds remaining in the first half, she sent a blast from 25 yards out just over the outstretched hands of the Boerne keeper. The goal was a huge momentum shift, and the Mustangs dominated play over the next 40 minutes. Maddie Harper scored the winning header off a Taylor Mathews serve with the final score, Pearce 2 Boerne 1.
The State Championship game was also played in Georgetown, and the Lady Mustangs were matched up against a Friendswood team who was playing in the State finals for the fourth straight year. A huge crowd of Mustang fans followed the team to Georgetown and cheered wildly as the Mustangs outplayed the Friendswood team.
Pearce dominated play early with Nina Anderson and Kathryn Watson running the forward positions. Taylor Mathews and Molly Hummel created some good chances from the mid-field spot and Haley Kerr played the stopper. The Pearce crowd went crazy 11 minutes into play when Gayle Ziegler served a corner kick that had a nice welcome from Maddie Harper’s head resulting in a gooooooooooaaaaaalllllllll ! The rest of the first half remained scoreless, and Pearce took a 1-0 lead into the locker room.
The second half got very physical, but the best defense in the nation showed its stuff with Meagan Stewart, Kaitlyn Fletcher and Maddie Harper holding firm in the backfield with midfielders Haley Kerry, Mathews, Rikki Hirshowitz, Hummel and Ziegler keeping the action on the opposite field.
Senior Captain goalkeeper Haley Newsom was determined not to finish her four-year career on a losing note, and she had the game of her life. The last 17 minutes had the Friendswood team pounding on the Pearce door, but Newsom, with two diving saves and one incredible leaping tip over, helped save the lead with the team’s 22nd shutout of the season.
"This team, first and foremost, has displayed great chemistry all season, and everyone worked very, very hard to reach our goals," said coach Oscar Borgarello. "Our captains, Haley Newsom and Molly Hummel, provided outstanding leadership and really helped keep the girls focused and ready."
"It was a sweet finish," proclaimed Borgarello of his team's ninth season as coach. "It was so rewarding to see the girls experience the thrill of winning a state championship after making the playoffs 9 of the last 10 years. I'd be remiss if I didn't congratulate Friendswood on a great season and final effort."
The Lady Mustangs will return a strong team next year, with three junior players already committing to Division 1 schools. Seniors Newsom and Hummel have signed to attend University of North Texas and East Central Oklahoma respectively.
Congratulations Lady Mustangs!