Indians oust Cougars, advance to 3A title game

One year ago against Charlotte Catholic, the St. Stephens soccer team tasted the agony of defeat.

This year, the Lady Indians have quenched their appetite for victory.

Macy Franklin’s header goal on a corner kick from Susan Bare helped Saint defeat Charlotte Catholic, 1-0, to advance to Saturday’s 3A state title game.

“That’s just hard work right there,” said Indians coach Chuck Davis, who will be coaching in his first state title game on Saturday. “They say good luck is a bi-product of hard work, and they proved it today.”

Bare twice had a chance to help give her team the lead on a pair of corner kicks.

After going scoreless in the first half, Bare’s first corner kick — the first of the game for the Indians — came 10 minutes into the second half.

Bare found Caroline Holmes in front of the net on a perfect kick, but Holmes’ header just glanced off of the top of the cross bar.

“I always look for Macy or Caroline,” said Bare of her mindset on each corner kick. “They mostly finish. I just wanted to make it count because I know we didn’t get any corners in the first half.”

With 23 minutes to go in Tuesday’s 3A West title game, Bare would have a second chance to Bare’s kick sailed over Holmes’ head, but found Franklin, who headed in the ball past goalkeeper Kaylie Lindsey.

Franklin has now scored 12 of Saint’s 24 goals this postseason.

“I knew it was going in. You just know on some of them,” said Franklin of her header. “As soon as she kicked it, I knew I had it. The corner kick before that, it was a perfect ball to Caroline. When I saw it was going over Caroline, I knew it was going to hit my head perfectly. I looked at the back post and knew it had to go in. It was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better ball.”

Amanda Hall, who gave up an own goal in last year’s 1-0 road loss to Charlotte Catholic, shut down Jane Cline, the Lady Cougars best offensive player.

“She was so fast,” Hall said of Cline. “It was a very panicky feeling because they were on our side. They kept hammering us. We were running all over the place.”

Cline, who came into Tuesday’s game with 75 goals on the season, was held scoreless.

“To shut down a player who had 75 goals on the season, that girl (Hall) needs some kind of an award,” Davis said. “That was an amazing performance. She didn’t do it alone. Hayley covered and Susan covered well. Amanda just frustrated that girl to death.”

Hall and Huffman also prevented Cline from scoring with under 30 seconds left to help seal the Lady Indians victory.

Catholic outshot Saint 15-5 in Tuesday’s game.

“I give it to them,” Huffman said. “They were pounding it in the end. They wanted it.”

The Lady Indians (21-3-2) meet Cardinal Gibbons (21-2-1) at 11 a.m. in Saturday’s 3A final.

Cardinal Gibbons advanced with a 4-1 victory against White Oak in the 3A East championship game on Tuesday.

“I don’t know anything about them,” Davis said of Cardinal Gibbons. “I’ll have to talk some people. I’ll probably call the White Oak coach or anyone they’ve played to see what they can tell me about Gibbons. I’m just excited we are going. There’s nothing else I can say.”