Westbrook Christian’s May Grace Mayfield (2) protects the ball from a pair of Montgomery Academy players during the Lady Warriors’ 4-0 loss in the Class 1A-3A girls soccer state championship game on May 12 in Huntsville.
By Chris McCarthy
For the second year in a row, the Westbrook Christian girls soccer team came up just short of the top prize in the state.
The Lady Warriors (19-7) managed just two shots on goal on the way to a 4-0 loss to Montgomery Academy in the Class 1A-3A championship game on May 12 in Huntsville.
“I give credit to Montgomery Academy. They have a lot of team speed and did a great job of controlling the ball and pressuring us all over the field,” said Westbrook head coach Joel Hawbaker. “It’s hard to score against that good of a team. My forwards dug in and worked all over the field. We had a few good chances that we couldn’t quite put away, but I couldn’t be any prouder of my girls.”
Montgomery Academy (15-3-5) got its first goal at 24:13 mark of the first half by Austyn Barnes. Tournament MVP Tara Katz found the net on a penalty kick with less than seven minutes remaining before the half.
Elizabeth Robertson accounted for both second-half goals for the Lady Eagles, the first at 44:52 and the second at 70:55.
Westbrook goalie Mattie Loyd kept her team in the game by stopping 13 of 17 shots by the Lady Eagles.
“I couldn’t ask for a better goalkeeper than Mattie,” said Hawbaker. “She played tremendously well tonight and has come up with clutch saves all season. She’s harder on herself that most of the players I’ve ever coached and puts her heart and soul into every game. I’m very thankful to have her coming back for one more year.”
Westbrook advanced to the finals with a 2-0 semifinal win over Altamont on May 11. Alexis Beard broke a scoreless tie at 30:46 of the first half to give Westbrook a 1-0 lead. Kylee Berndt then scored on a pass from Makenna Beard at 38:11. Loyd made two saves in goal.
Hawbaker noted that seniors Mary Grace Mayfield, Shea George, Kearse Ellison, Alexis Beard, Olivia Strickland, Elizabeth Wethington, Kali Stapler and Kristin Flanery would be missed.
“We graduated seven girls from last year’s state finals team. To lose that many [players] and make it back her is a tremendous accomplishment, and those eight girls had a lot to do with that. When these girls were freshman, they had never won a playoff game or an area championship, and to make the state finals two years in a row is something that no one can take away from them.
“As for our younger players who are coming back, I wanted them to experience what kind of speed, intensity, effort and heart it takes to get to this level. We also had a great crowd here tonight, and I couldn’t ask for better support from our school and our community.”