An offensive outburst of three goals in the second half gave the Page Lady Patriots their first state title in school history.
The team defeated the Murfreesboro Central Magnet School Lady Tigers 4-2 at CHI Memorial Stadium in Chattanooga on Saturday afternoon.
“It means a lot,” said Page head coach Nate Clapp of winning a title. “They pushed through a lot to get here, and this is a long time coming. It is nice to reach this point.”
In the first half, Murfreesboro Central Magnet got on the board with a header in the box by sophomore Reily Gusman to take the lead 1-0.
Later in the first half, Page evened the score on a blast in the box by junior Emerson Ladd in the 25th minute to give the Lady Patriots a 1-1 tie going into halftime.
“Emerson Ladd has been playing lights out,” said Coach Ladd. “In the last month she has turned it on at another level. She has been phenomenal, including getting the big opening goal for us today.”
In the second half, the Lady Patriots collected an early tally on a cross that was redirected by junior Kathryn Nelson to give Page the lead 2-1.
“Kate Nelson had a big hustle play coming from the west wing to get to the near post and beat the keeper,” said Coach Clapp.
In the 67th minute, sophomore Reagan Hamilton delivered a strike from 25 yards out to increase the Lady Patriots lead 3-1.
The scoring spree continued for the Lady Patriots in the 78th minute with a close range misdirection shot rebounded by sophomore Hayley Zehnder and snuck past the keeper to stretch the Page lead to 4-1.
“Regan (Hamilton) and Hayley (Zehnder) have improved and have something special,” said Coach Clapp. “The goals they hit are ones that are made all the time in practice. You really get to see what they do in training, happening in the game and on the biggest stage.”
The Lady Tigers mounted a comeback with a goal in the 79th minute by freshman Avery Stojakovich to cut the Page lead to 4-2, but the deficit was too big to overcome. The Lady Patriots won their first girls soccer state crown 4-2.
Murfreesboro Central and Page entered the conversation with their fourth time facing each other this season, since they are district rivals.
“Every time we have played them, different players have stepped up to win games,” said Coach Clapp. “In the first game, Riley Kate Collins gave us a goal off a set piece. The second time we played them, we ended it up tying them. They beat us in penalty kicks. In the third game, we had a couple of goals by Kate Nelson and an own goal. In the state final, we had four different players score.”
Page will look to build off their championship season, though they will lose six seniors (Mallory Stock, McKenzie Graham, Kayla Pack, Ayden Weinstein, Linley Skiles and Ashley Reed) on their team.
“No matter what those girls went through, they just all brought it back into the family,” said Coach Clapp. “They always brought us back together. The heart of the senior class is second to none. It has been amazing to be a part of their lives the last four years.”
Page finished the year 20-3-1 (7-0).
“Our depth right now has been our strength, and because of that depth, we have girls coming into every position that will be seniors,” said Coach Clapp. “It will be very interesting to see where they go from here.”