(WJBF) – What a difference a year makes. The Aquinas High School girls soccer team finished an undefeated season (14-0) by winning the Georgia High School Association 1A DII state championship, beating Towns County 5-2 in overtime.
It is an incredible turnaround for a program that endured a winless campaign during the 2022 season at 0-10. The same program that saw every eligible player return for this season.
They all wanted a chance at redemption, but instead, they got perfection.
The Fighting Irish dominated the playoffs this year. Earning a first round bye, they outscored their first three playoff opponents 26-0 on the way to the state championship game.
Playing on a sunny and windy Tuesday at McEachern High School northwest of Atlanta, Aquinas took a 1-0 first half lead after senior forward, and team-leading scorer Caroline Jackson converted a penalty kick. Towns County would tie the game midway through the second half at 1-1. Aquinas junior captain Landry Washington gave the Irish the lead once again late in the second half, 2-1, but a last minute Towns County free-kick goal would push the game to overtime tied 2-2.
This is when the determination, and perhaps, frustration of the struggles from last season pushed the Irish ahead. Aquinas dominated the two 10-minute overtime periods, finding the back of the net three times for the convincing 5-2 win. Jackson pounced on Washington’s perfectly placed corner kick to give Aquinas the early lead in overtime 3-2.
In the second overtime frame, sophomore Elle Morris collected a pass down the left side and simply outwilled, and outran three Towns County defenders to force the ball into the back of the net for a 4-2 lead.
Minutes later, Jackson netted a hat-trick to close her high school career by heading home another corner kick from Washington, pushing Aquinas to their 5-2 finish, and the program’s first ever state championship.