Pace (14-5) came back from a 2-1 deficit in the second half to tie the game and send it into overtime before Cadie Schiffer made the game- and title-winning score in the penalty kick phase to give the Knights their first girls’ state soccer crown since 1997.
To win the title, Pace beat a First Presbyterian team that came into the game undefeated at 19-0.
“It was exhilarating,” Pace coach Liz Tutt said. “It was a game that was tight the whole time and to get to watch my girls jump for joy filled my heart. It was just awesome.”
First Presbyterian scored in the 27th minute of the first half to take a 1-0 lead before Pace tied it at 1-all on a goal by Cater Carlton with about seven minutes left in the half.
Pace found itself behind again after First Presbyterian took a 2-1 lead with about 25 minutes remaining in regulation before Kandace Thompson scored on a header with 12:30 left to even the score at 2-all and eventually force the game into overtime.
After two scoreless overtime periods, Pace took a quick 2-0 lead in penalty kicks on scores by Carlton and Jessica Haidet and First Presbyterian eventually evened things up at 3-all before Schiffer’s successfully converted her try on the fifth round of kicks to give the Knights their state title.
“We had [come from behind] before, when we played Holy Innocents’ in the quarterfinals and so I think it really helped the girls believe that they can do it, that they knew how to manage that,” Tutt said.
Pace advanced to the Class A private school girls’ finals with a 4-0 victory over Savannah Country Day last Wednesday after having beaten Towns County 8-0 in the first round May 2, Walker 4-0 in the second round May 7 and Holy Innocents’ 4-3 in the quarterfinals May 10.
Pace’s drive to the state title was truly a family affair, with five pairs of sisters on the roster – senior Arden Carlton and sophomore Cater Carlton, freshman Jessica Haidet and senior Kelliann Haidet, junior Carolina Abdullah and freshman Isabella Abdullah, senior Kate Morrisroe and junior Rachel Morrisroe and junior twins Natalie and Stephanie Novellas.
“They are a cohesive team anyway, but that seemed to help us more – knowing that ‘All for one and one for all,’” Tutt said. “It helps to know that we’re a family school and that we’re working hard for each other and that we lift each other up, just like a sister would.”
Meanwhile, the Westminster boys (13-5-5) and the Lovett girls (17-5) fell just short of winning the championship trophy after both teams lost to Greater Atlanta Christian 3-0 in the Class AA boys’ and girls’ title games last Friday.
The Atlanta International boys (17-3-1) also finished runner up after losing to Paideia 4-2 in overtime in the Class A private school boys championship contest last Saturday.
Nick Rath scored two goals to give Atlanta International a 2-0 lead before Paideia scored two goals in the last four minutes of regulation to tie the game at 2-all and then added two more goals in the overtime period.