The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News 2

May 14, 2013

COLUMN: Athens girls soccer caps remarkable run

— The journey for the Athens girls soccer program over the past decade is nothing short of remarkable.

Since making the state soccer tournament for the first time in 2007, the Golden Eagles can’t get enough of it. The team has made an appearance in the 5A tournament for seven consecutive years, finally winning it all on Saturday.

The progress has been slow, but steady, coming closer every year to hoisting the school’s first Blue Map for soccer.

After losing by at least two goals in their first four appearances in the state semifinals, the Golden Eagles made progress in 2011 by taking the eventual champion, Spanish Fort, to a shootout.

Last year, Athens broke down that semifinal hurdle and beat Briarwood 5-2, only to lose in the closing minutes of the of the 5A final to Chelsea.

On Saturday, Athens’ steady climb to the top of 5A soccer culminated with a 1-0 victory over St. Paul’s on the same field where they had suffered so many emotional losses in years past.

As the last whistle blew in the 5A girls final, it was tears of joy — not sadness — streaming down the girls’ faces.

Speaking with players after the game, it was clear they were determined not to come so close and see it slip away again. You could see on the field Friday and Saturday at John Hunt Park.

Look no further than the results.

Athens shut out two of the state’s best 5A teams in consecutive days on Alabama soccer’s biggest stage.

It’s a stark contrast from last year’s playoff run in which Athens scored 13 goals in the postseason only to come up just short. This year, it only took six goals for the team to win it all.

Aside from a second-half goal against Fort Payne, the Golden Eagles nearly navigated through the playoffs without conceding a goal.

From the solid central midfield duo of Miranda Huddleston and Klaire Phillips to the speedy center back combination of Mary Claire Breakfield and Emily Poole, Athens stayed compact and organized throughout the state tournament.

Much of the team’s success can be attributed to its senior leadership. While every team has seniors, few have seniors with the type of experience Athens has.

Juli Owens, Grace Morgan, Breakfield and Phillips were competing in their fourth state soccer tournament. It was just another game for them and it showed in the dying minutes of Saturday’s final.

Instead of sitting back and absorbing pressure, Athens attacked St. Paul’s and looked the most likely to score when the clock hit zero.

All that hard work they’ve put in over the past four years paid off Saturday afternoon and it will continue to pay dividends, as they will be remembered as the school’s first state soccer champions.

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Local News 2
  • North win streak improves to 12

    The South last won 85-76 in in 2002.

    July 24, 2014

  • Local athletes lead North to soccer sweep

    East Limestone’s Dilan Sayer scored the opening goal and was named MVP of the boys game in a 3-0 win while Jordan Runion scored her team’s opening goal in a 3-1 for the girls.

    July 23, 2014

  • Davidson helps North tie

    She was one of only three North players to record a hit in the opener, which ended 3-3.
    Pitching duties were shared by Lexington’s Jessie Butler, Central-Florence’s Ashley Irons and Hartselle’s Jada Hayes along with eventual North MVP Maddie Moore of Winfield.

    July 23, 2014

  • Tedford, Potts take on the South in All-Star hoops game

    Stace Tedford has had a busy year at Athens. After leading the basketball team to a school-record 24 consecutive wins and regional finals appearance, he jumped straight into soccer season, where he took the varsity girls soccer team to another 5A state championship game.
    Wednesday, Tedford will be on the court again, coaching in the North-South All-Star basketball game.

    July 23, 2014

  • Strong local presence at state All-Star Week

    Some of the top rising seniors from the Athens-Limestone area will play in six of the games, beginning with softball and soccer games Tuesday.

    July 19, 2014

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    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • State softball tournament begins in Athens today

    The three-day, double-elimination event begins at 6 tonight at the Athens Sportsplex.

    July 11, 2014

  • Run with goats Saturday

    Belle Chevre Creamery will hosts the first annual ‘Running with the Goats’ Saturday in downtown Elkmont. The event will feature a 10K, 5K and fun run on the certified Rails to Trails course.

    July 10, 2014

  • Softball team.JPG Athens softball team wins state

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • American Outlaws1.jpg American Outlaws: Locals band together to support U.S. soccer team

    One of the newest official chapters is in North Alabama where U.S. supporters have banded together to form American Outlaws Huntsville.

    July 4, 2014 1 Photo

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