Gianna Giroux's two goals lift St. John the Baptist to CHSAA state title

St. John the Baptist's Gianna Giroux (no. 21) St. John the Baptist's Gianna Giroux (no. 21) celebrates after scoring against John F. Kennedy Catholic. (Nov. 10, 2013) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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Sophomore Gianna Giroux could get used to this.

The speedy sophomore matched her season total by scoring both goals in St. John the Baptist's 2-1 win over Kennedy Catholic (Somers, N.Y.) Sunday in the CHSAA girls soccer state championship game at Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn.

Giroux's two goals secured the team's first state title since 2009 and the fourth crown in the 18-year coaching career of Shannon Keenan.

Weather played a role as SJB overcame the wind for the win.

"The strong winds definitely had an influence on the game," Keenan said. "With the wind, we were letting our passes get away from us and couldn't control the speed of the ball. And then playing into the wind in the second half, we had to put more into our passes. They did a good job."

Giroux's first goal came with the wind at her back. She opened the scoring in the fourth minute after a scramble out front. Her right-footed blast from 7 yards gave St. John the Baptist a 1-0 lead.

"The ball was being crossed and it deflected off [Bridget] Patch and right to me," Giroux said. "I was in the right place."

"She's always in the right place," said fellow sophomore Patch, who led St. John the Baptist with 18 goals this season and had both assists Sunday. "She hustles and makes things happen. And she's so fast."

Giroux's speed accounted for the second goal. She streaked past the defender down the left side and took a long through pass from Patch to beat the keeper from 14 yards for a 2-0 lead in the 66th minute.

"I have a good eye for the field," Patch said. "And she was making a great run. I had to get it there and I knew she would finish the play."

Kennedy Catholic's Sara Plowman nailed a 24-yard rocket but heavy winds carried it just over the crossbar with 5:48 left. The Gaels still weren't done.

Playing in their first year of CHSAA competition and coming off a 3-0 semifinal win over Nardin Academy of Buffalo, the Gaels forced the action and cut the lead in half when senior Kiera Hennesey drilled a 33-yard direct kick over the reach of St. John the Baptist keeper Colleen Hickey in the 69th minute to make it 2-1.

"She's been consistent all season in goal but came out too far on that one," Keenan said. "It made the last 10 minutes very hectic."

St. John the Baptist played smart defense throughout the final 10 minutes for the title, and held on thanks to Giroux's efforts on offense.

Said Giroux, "I'm happy for my team and our coaches."

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