Girls’ Soccer: Tigers claim state title
From the time Douglas High’s varsity girls’ soccer roster was set back in August, it was apparent the team was headed for bigger and better things.
“Honestly, from the time we got into preseason I thought they had it in them to go to whatever ends were available to them,” Douglas coach Lorraine Fitzhugh said. “As a group, they just give off the feeling that they want to win.
“They are winners. They learned the tough lessons last year and put them into practice this year.”
That much was apparent Saturday afternoon as the Tigers claimed the first-ever NIAA 4A Girls’ State Soccer Championship at Damonte Ranch with a 2-0 win over Galena.
The win was the punctuation mark on a season that saw Douglas post a school-record 23 wins and win the girls’ soccer program’s first regional title since 2002. The win also sealed the school’s first team state title in 11 years (Douglas volleyball last did it in 1998).
In order to get there, they had to avenge their only two losses of the season in the regional and state title games.
“It feels amazing,” Douglas senior CJ Baumgartner said. “I love that. I love being state champions. I think these girls that are coming back can be state champions in the years to come.
“This has been the best experience in my life. These girls, this team is amazing. I knew we could do it.”
Douglas left little doubt in the game, outshooting the Grizzlies 17-8 and dominating possession throughout.
All of the action on the scoreboard, though, came in a flurry in the two minutes before halftime.
Katie Dry a scoreless tie in the 37th minute, making a nice run through the middle and sending a shot high just under the crossbar for her fifth goal in as many playoff games.
About a minute later Alex Laing placed a corner kick high in front of the net and Holly Downer came sailing through the crowd to get her head on it and rip a laser shot into the back of the net.
The score stayed set through the rest of the game, but Douglas nearly made it 3-0 on a number of occasions, including just before the first-half whistle on a five-yard shot from Baumgartner that was barely deflected away.
“We just tried to play hard,” Baumgartner said. “The main thing we talked about was bringing heart into this game. That’s all we need it. As a team, we just brought everything we had. We played really hard.”
Not to be lost in the shuffle was a standout game by the Tiger defense, who posted its fourth shutout of the playoffs.
Brianna Randall made eight saves in the game and the back line of Downer, Shannon Hubbard amd Erica Macias did a good job containing Galena’s strikers Sarah Lancaster and Melanie Neff.
“We have five defenders (Shannon Prinz and Natalie Freitas work as stoppers in the central midfield) and they’re all underclassmen,” Fitzhugh said. “Through the season, we didn’t really know what to expect. But they have really turned it on in the playoffs.
“They did a really good job controlling the back today.”
Fitzhugh said she was also impressed with the team’s effort.
“It was a long week getting here,” Fitzhugh said. “I was very happy with the energy they came out with and they didn’t decide to fold against any kind of pressure.
“I think we dominated many areas of the game.”
Cora Moody, Tia Lyons and Lexi Weaver each had a couple of nice chances in front on offense and Laing put the majority of shots on net for the Tigers.
Douglas wrapped up the season with a 23-2-2 record.