By Wil Crews
It took extra time and penalty kicks, but the Lee-Scott Varsity girls soccer team defeated Tuscaloosa Academy on Friday to capture the AISA girls’ soccer championship.
When the game ended in a 1-1 draw and eventually went through extra time to penalty kicks, Lee-Scott girls coach Eric Faison was confident his girls would get it done.
“I knew we had won because we had the best keeper in the AISA,” Faison said.
Faison is of course talking about Lee-Scott goalkeeper Abbie Star, who was named to the AISA All-Tournament team along with her teammates Emily Heartsill, Colee Shepp and Delaney Faison. Ironically, Star didn’t even have to make a save on what proved to be the kick that would crown the Warriors champions.
Lee-Scott was up 4-3 on penalty kicks with one Tuscaloosa Academy player left to shoot. If she scored the goal, the two teams would have headed to sudden death, where the next team to make a penalty with the other missing, wins. Effortlessly enough for Lee-Scott, the Tuscaloosa Academy player skied her final penalty kick off the top of the crossbar and the Warriors rushed the field in fervent jubilation.
“I may have pulled some voodoo strings and I may have sold my soul,” Faison said. “But it was worth it to watch these girls get something they deserved and busted their tail for.”
On paper, the youthful Lee-Scott team was outmatched. The Warriors’ starting lineup consisted of four eighth graders, two seventh graders, one ninth grader, one junior and three seniors. Tuscaloosa was an experienced team sitting at a perfect 12-0, having dominated teams on their path to the final. With only four shots on goal all game, Lee-Scott able to hold on thanks to Heartsill’s first-half goal.
“I’m sure the other team never seriously considered a remote chance they would have any competition, much less lose,” Faison said.
But the impossible happened. In what was the “most exciting and stressful” game Faison has ever coached, the girls had the metal to get the job done.
“They just wanted it more,” Faison said.