St. John the Baptist kept checking off their wish list en route to state title

St. John the Baptist's Samantha Bernieri celebrates with St. John the Baptist's Samantha Bernieri celebrates with Faith Daley after winning the CHSAA girls soccer state championship over Kennedy Catholic. (Nov. 10, 2013) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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Good morning, St. John the Baptist High School! It's time for your daily announcements . . . The girls soccer team defeated Kennedy Catholic, 2-1, yesterday to win the 2013 CHSAA state championship.

The morning announcements at St. John the Baptist are televised in each classroom. Shortly after that particular announcement was made on Nov. 11, the girls soccer team appeared on screen.

They wore their practice jerseys, which all season long had the motto "Heart of a Champion" printed on the back. Of course, right in the middle of them all, was the plaque of a champion.

With the entire school watching, they answered questions about a season-long journey that culminated with a state title.

"It was nerve-wracking, but it was fun," senior captain Faith Daley said. "I couldn't have asked for a better way to end the season or a better team to end it with."

That was the final team activity of the season.

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So now let's jump back to one of the first.

It was a preseason pasta party and the team discussed all of the goals they wanted to accomplish. They wrote them down on a poster board, 25 goals in total, and eventually hung it on the wall in their locker room.

"We knew it was high expectations for what we put on the list," said Bridget Patch, who had team highs of 17 goals and 10 assists. "But everything got checked off."

One of the goals listed was to simply, "Beat St. Anthony's." Daley scored the go-ahead goal in the 65th minute to lead the Cougars to a 2-0 win over the Friars in the semifinals.

Check!

Another said, "Win CHSAA championship." Samantha Bernieri and Sarah Yurgel each scored and Colleen Hickey made eight saves in a 2-0 win over Sacred Heart to win the league title.

Check!

"Coming in and crossing something off every week was so encouraging," Holly Habyan said. "To see that we were capable of beating all these teams, we proved to ourselves that we could go to states and win it all."

They certainly had the pieces in place to win it all.

From Megan Yaeger, Kaitlyn Montalbano and Lauren Fremgen shutting down the opposition in the backfield, to Habyan and Yurgel dominating play in the midfield, to Patch and Sara Plowman finishing with ease up top.

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But the truth is, winning the state title wasn't originally written down. It wasn't due to a lack of confidence, but more a "let's-get-there-first" mentality. When they did get there, Gianna Giroux scored two goals in the title game, matching her season total, to give St. John the Baptist the state championship.

"Before the season started, they decided they could be a championship team," St. John the Baptist coach Shannon Keenan said. "So each time they accomplished a goal they would check it off until there was nothing left. We were just destined to win."

The season was over, the state championship already secured. But the team wanted to make an adjustment to their list of goals. So in big letters along the bottom of the poster they wrote, "Win States."

Check!

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