St. Thomas More was not exactly thrilled about its performance on Thursday, so the Cavaliers decided to do something about it on Friday.
STM controlled the tone from start to finish on the way to a 6-0 win over Groton for third place in the SDHSAA Girls’ State Soccer Tournament at Swisher Field Friday afternoon.
“After (Thursday’s) loss, I think today we were really fired up and motivated to win,” said More’s Emily Hein, who led the triumph with a pair of goals and two assists.
Following a 6-0 loss to Aberdeen Central in the semifinals, the Cavaliers wanted to finish their season on a high note.
“(Thursday) was not a good day. The girls weren’t happy about it,” said STM coach Doug Noyes. “They didn’t feel like they played to the best of their ability. They didn’t feel like we gave Aberdeen the game that we could have. They decided to change that today.”
Kaitlyn Boswell got the More attack going with a goal in the 24th minute. Hein then put in another goal less than three minutes later as the Cavaliers took advantage of Groton’s outside trap that consistently gave More 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 advantages.
“We’ve worked a lot on playing splits and trying to get behind the defense,” Noyes said. “We knew that they try to play an outside trap and you live by the trap and you die by the trap.”
More poured it on the second half with four more goals. Again Hein found herself in the middle of the action with another goal and another assist.
“That’s exactly what I wanted to do,” Hein said. “I wanted to score and I wanted us to win and it happened today.”
Meanwhile, Groton was unable to muster much of an attack against the older and more experienced Cavaliers, managing just three shots on goal.
“They’re a good team. They’re experienced. They’ve been at the tournament a lot,” said Groton coach Duane Kavanaugh. “We’re pretty young. We have a lot of eighth-graders playing. We’re pretty happy with our outcome.”
The Tigers finished their season with a 4-5-3 mark and a chance to be part of the Final Four of the initial SDHSAA State Tournament, despite being one of the smallest schools to have a sanctioned program.
“I think a lot of people didn’t think a town like Groton would ever get to the tournament,” Kavanaugh said. “That was our goal was to make the tournament. It was a great weekend.”
St. Thomas More capped its year with a 7-5-4 record and left town with a good feeling about its state tourney experience.
“We were hoping for the gold, but I’ll settle for third,” Hein said.
“I’m happy with where we are.”