Inside the SSA and SPS State Soccer Championships

St. Paul’s defeated Grace King in the LHSAA Division I State Soccer Championship on Friday, Feb. 28, SPS dominating Grace King 3-0. SPS’s sister school, St. Scholastic Academy, also won their state championship game in a thrilling overtime victory over Lafayette 1-0. Both teams were both satisfied and relieved by winning, with SPS having lost the championship game for both of the past two years and SSA having lost the championship game for the past three years in a row. After all of the excitement and chaos of the game and the weeks to follow, The Paper Wolf caught up a with senior player from each championship team for an inside look at those championship moments.

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Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 9.04.53 AMEmily Daigle – SSA
Senior, Keeper

What were your emotions going into the game?
I definitely felt calmer this game than I did the Dominican game (in the semi-finals). I’m not really sure why. I guess because our goal all season was to make it once again to the championship and once we did that. We knew that we had to do whatever it takes to win. We knew how hard we worked for this one game. And especially for the seniors, it meant a lot because most of us have been on the team since freshmen year, and we have definitely felt the pain of losing and didn’t want to feel that way during our last game ever playing for SSA. So, I felt calm and confident that our team could get the job done.

What was one of the keys that helped the team win late in OT?
I think that our team’s motivation was a key factor in winning in OT. Right when the whistle for regulation time blew, we all came together to prepare for overtime, and one thing that everyone kept saying was, “We deserve to win.” We looked over at the other team and saw that they were all sitting down, and they looked so tired and worn out. Our team was standing up and jumping, just ready to go out on the field and finish the game with a victory. Every single one of us knew how much work and dedication we have put into this team over the past four months, and we weren’t going to let it slip out of our hands.

How did you feel after the win, and why was it so special to you?
Kate scored, and it honestly took my breath away. We were all jumping up and down, screaming with joy. It felt like my throat was closing up those last two minutes of the second overtime. It was the longest two minutes of my life. All we wanted was to hear the final whistle. Once we heard it, I sprinted out onto the field, and it seemed like everything around me was a blur. I was only focused on running to my team to celebrate. It was the best feeling in the world; I can’t even describe it. It’s like a huge weight was lifted off of our shoulders because we finally accomplished something we have been working for all of our years at SSA. This win was so special to me because it showed me to never give up on something that means the world to you. Even though I have only been on the team for a year, I have been playing with these girls (seniors) my whole life. I think that this win was very sentimental to the seniors. We have all experienced what it was like to lose. Not once, not twice, but three times. Our coach has also had a huge impact on us. He has never doubted us and kept us positive throughout this entire journey. He has been there with us through every loss, and he has picked us up and showed how to move on and learn from our mistakes.

How was this team different from teams in the years past?
I feel like this team is very mature. We have eight seniors and eight juniors who are all very dedicated and motivated to be successful. I think that if the upperclassmen can be good role models to the younger ones, it will help keep the team focused. To me, the team this year all wanted the same thing: to win a state championship.

The SSA team poses with their new trophy following the heated game. (photo by Patrick Greenfield, NOLA.com)

The SSA team poses with their new trophy following the hard-fought championship game. (photo by Patrick Greenfield, NOLA.com)

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(photo by Joey Michel)

(photo by Joey Michel)

Cameron Robinson – SPS
Senior, Forward/Right Mid

What were your emotions going into the game?
Being a senior in the first place, there are tons of nerves running through your body because we all knew it was the last game we would ever play for SPS. Secondly, being the senior captain and the top goal scorer, there was a lot of pressure for me to perform well. If I had an off game, I still had absolute confidence in my team that we would still come out victorious. Thirdly, having lost the past two years in the final, I believed that it would be disgraceful for us to lose again to an inexperienced (opponent), compared to us. Overall, nerves existed most definitely, but I have a good way of masking them so it doesn’t rub off on the others. Although the anxiety and nerves were present, we were all ready to play and ready to get our title back.

What was one of the keys that helped the team completely shut out Grace King?
Experience benefited us greatly. With most of the starting 11 already being through the ordeal twice, we knew what we were heading into. Also, the quality and quantity of the players that we possess. I’m glad to see Grace King get some recognition, but when it all boils down, on average, our players were miles ahead of theirs in every aspect if the game. But, what really aided us was the fact that we knew it was on us to win. We had the capability of complete domination. It was on us to either be successful or be disappointed once more.

How did you feel after the win, and why was it so special to you?
I may be a bit repetitive, but knowing that this was my last year with the guys and this school, it’s the best feeling ever. Having been through such disappointment the past two years, this was a culmination of everything we’d done and failed to do. The hours we put in every week and weekend finally amounted to the most precious accomplishment a team can possess. To do it with this group of players, coaches, and fan base, I couldn’t be more content with the way the season played out.

How was this team different from teams in the years past?
The main proponent that sets us apart from former teams is our ability to get along with one another on and off the field. In prior years, I noticed slight hostility between some players, but this year none of that has occurred. Of course there was high competition and the determination to win, even at practice, but it was all for the bettering of one another. We are a lighthearted team that may get annoying at some points, but it’s just our way to show our appreciation to each other. We bonded from the very beginning of the season, and nothing was able to separate us.

The SPS and Grace King teams prepare for the championship match. (photo by Joey Michel)

The SPS and Grace King teams prepare to battle for the state championship title.         SPS was victorious, winning 3-0. (photo by Joey Michel)

 

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