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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Westminster beats Augusta Prep to win state soccer title

Staff Writer
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Westminster's Cara Smith (right) keeps the ball from Augusta Prep's Bailee Cloutier. Smith scored the lone goal of the match, on a chip.

MACON, Ga. — As the ball floated toward her, Westminster’s Cara Smith knew this would be the time she would finish. This was the end of the stalemate. It was time to win a championship.

Smith’s goal with 11:19 to play was the lone strike of the match as the Westminster girls soccer team beat previously unbeaten Augusta Prep, 1-0, at Mount de Sales in the GISA Class AAA state championship game. It’s the Lady Wildcats’ second state championship in four seasons.

“ ‘The next one is mine,’ ” Smith said she remembers thinking after she missed an earlier chance wide.

The finish came as Westminster (13-3-0) controlled the run of play for most of the second half, winning balls and the midfield while also limiting Jamie Alexander’s touches.

It was a different case in the opening half, with Augusta Prep
(16-1-1) having better scoring threats.

However, Westminster goalkeeper Kelly Smith was there to stop every serious chance. Once, Alexander appeared to have a goal, only to have Smith dive to catch the attempt.

The Lady Cavaliers, which won the two regular season meetings, never beat the goalie.

“I really thought we had momentum,” Augusta Prep coach Tom Norton said. “We just didn’t get it done.”

After Smith’s chip went in, Westminster tried to kill as much time as possible. The Lady Wildcats took away precious seconds by keeping the ball in near a corner flag wand firing the ball in on Augusta Prep’s side of the field.

When Augusta Prep did get close to the Lady Wildcats’ box, the defense blocked shots and swarmed Alexander, who was sometimes surrounded by three or even four players. With each hold, Westminster was closer to the title.

Near the end, Westminster’s Kerrie Edmondson and Anna Hearon, both seniors, had hands on their heads and repeatedly looked back over their shoulders, hoping to see the time nearing zero on the field’s only clock.

“That was the longest 11 minutes of my life,” Edmondson said. “Seconds were going by like minutes.”

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