Sacred Heart Academy players celebrate the first goal of the game in the second half of the CHSAA state girls soccer final against Nardin at Niagara University in Lewiston, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016.Credit: Mark Mulville
A lineup starting seven sophomores may not be a popular selection to win a state CHSAA girls soccer championship, but don’t tell that to Sacred Heart.
The Spartans defeated Nardin Academy (Buffalo), 1-0, at Niagara University Saturday to win their fifth state title in school history and first since 2008.
“It was just amazing,” Anna Donnelly said. “It was overwhelming. Senior year to go this far, we were all very confident and we knew our team was great but we also knew Nardin would come out and play really hard so it was just amazing to be able to finally win.”
Donnelly, along with the back line of Bridget O’Hara, Lauren Wasserman, Ellen Byrnes and Melissa Biscardi with Shannon Etts and Sara Micheli in net, recorded its fifth straight shutout. Victoria Minda also had a strong game at midfield.
“I can’t even describe it in words to be able to defend that long,” Donnelly said. “We were all tired but we knew if we just played our hardest, especially today, it was our last game, we just put it all out on the field.”
After a scoreless first half, Kristen McArdle sent a cross that deflected off a Nardin defender and into the net for the game’s lone goal midway through the second half.
“I was in shock in the moment,” said McArdle, a senior captain, “but I was so happy and relieved that it went in because I was waiting for someone else to run onto it but it hit her leg before anyone could get to it and it just went in.”
And with a long bus ride back to Long Island, Sacred Heart will pass the time watching movies, hanging out and reminiscing on the season. And, of course, passing around some hardware.
“Eight hours on a bus after a win like that is definitely something we’re going to enjoy,” McArdle said.