Saturday’s Class A state championship games brought the possibility of a couple of milestones for the St. Thomas More girls’ and boys’ soccer teams.
If the girls win, they earn their seventh Class A title in the last 16 years.
While on the boys’ side, if the Cavaliers made it past Tea Area, it would mark the first time they brought home a state title in the history of their program.
Neither team was able to get past their title game opponents as the girls dropped a narrow 1-0 decision to West Central, and the boys were shut down in a 5-0 loss to the Titans.
First half goal dooms Cavalier girls
For the St. Thomas More girls, the game was a defensive struggle from the outset and even though his team lost, Cavalier coach Doug Noyes felt they played a good all-around game.
“We played real well and I was really happy with the way we were playing all game,” he said. “I thought we controlled the ball real well and in my opinion we ran out of time to win the game. They’re a good team and they have a really good goalie. So why did we lose? They scored one and we couldn’t score two.”
With a scoreless tie in the 30th minute of play, West Central’s (Insert name) put her team on the board when she rolled the ball into the net.
The Cavs fought hard to get back into the game, attempting seven total shots on goal.
Unfortunately for STM, Trojans’ senior goalkeeper Hailee Fischer had an outstanding game in the net, while keeping the Cavalier defense on their heels.
Noyes credited West Central’s defense for playing a great game, even though he felt his team would’ve won if they had a little more time.
“They really are a good team. They work really hard and they pressured us really well. It basically boiled down to the fact that they scored, and we couldn’t get one,” he said. “I feel like if we had more time, we could’ve taken it.”
Noyes and the rest of the team look forward to the possibility of playing West Central again in the near future.
“In all likelihood at some point in time, we will be playing West Central again,” he said. “Next time we play them, we will pressure them faster and we will try to play a little faster in general. The kids played great, and they left it all on the field. There’s nothing more could ask from this team. There is an element of chance in every game, and today the chance went to West Central. Next year, that chance could be in our favor. That’s just how the game goes.”
Similar to the end of any other season in high school sports, every team ends the season by losing a handful of seniors.
This St. Thomas More girls’ squad is no different, as five of its seniors participated in their last high school soccer game on Saturday.
“We had five seniors this year and if was able to make all five of them captains, I would have,” Noyes said. “We have a culture on our team of leadership and development. When these girls were seventh and eighth graders, they were treated with respect and this season they were able to give that back. These girls did a great job of that.”
Those five seniors include Olivia Hill, Elizabeth Erlandson, Kayla Jacobson, Karlie Reagan and Bailey Carlson.
Even after losing five seniors, Noyes is confident the team can be better next year with 25 players returning to the roster.
Still, he appreciates what this team was able to do during the regular season and playoffs this season.
“These were a great bunch of girls to spend the last two and a half months with and I wouldn’t change anything about that,” he said.
Titans score often in win over STM
Tea Area’s offense started out on the right foot as it jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the half over the Cavaliers in the boys' A title game.
Noah Freidel earned the hat trick with three goals, while goalkeeper Cade Clayberg kept the potent Cavalier offense off the scoreboard the entire way.
Tea was the aggressor throughout the match and started early with four corner kicks and nine total shots in the first 40 minutes. The Titans opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Justin Hohn found Colby Fechner 10 yards from goal and Fechner scored to make it a 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, Freidel assisted Ramon Izquierdo in the lower right corner making it 2-0.
Freidel would add a third goal in the 36th minute of the half. The Titans put 11 shots on Cavalier's goalie Michael Hurd and led it 3-0 after 40 minutes.
Tea Area picked up where it left off in the second half as Freidel had the header off a corner kick by Wilson Hoffman to make it 4-0 in the 47th minute. Freidel would complete the hat trick and the scoring for the Titans in the 69th minute.
It was a big win for the Titans, who fell to Spearfish in last year's title game.
"We brought 10 starters from (last year's) team into this season, so it's pretty much the same team as last year," said Tea Area coach Zach Jurgens. "The pain we felt after last season's finish, no question our kids are gonna feel a lot better after (Saturday)."
STM head coach Pete Sales could not be reached for comment.
The Cavaliers finished 11-3-1 on the season.
The Pierre girls and Sioux Falls Lincoln boys were crowned state champions Saturday in Aberdeen.
In the girls' title match, the Lady Governors won their first state title with a convincing 3-0 win over Sioux Falls O'Gorman.
In the boys' match, it went to overtime before Sioux Falls Lincoln stunned defending state champion Aberdeen Central 3-1.
Robb Garofalo of the Aberdeen American News contributed to the boys story.