Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

MACON -- "We're OK, we're good. We'll be all right,'' said Marlee Locke, just in case anyone was interested in how the Terrell Academy girls soccer team handled losing the GISA Class AA state title game, 11-1, to Frederica on Saturday.

Other Lady Eagles agreed.

"It's never going to feel good when you lose by that much,'' said defender Carley Law, who hustled throughout the game, diving and pushing Frederica at every turn. "You've got to give it to Frederica. They are a great team, but we still feel good about getting here, about playing in the title game. We made history.''

Yup -- at least they have that.

This was the first time Terrell Academy had reached the state championship game, and that's what these kids will remember. The one-sided loss? That's going to be a tainted memory, but it's going to be like watching a bad movie: easy to forget.

"We'll go in Monday (at school) and get the basketballs out and start shooting,'' said Millie Foster, one of eight players on the soccer team that also played for TAE's Class A softball state championship team or Class A basketball state championship team.

They would have won all three Class A state titles, but GISA doesn't have a soccer tournament for Class A schools, so Terrell Academy (9-3-1) was forced to play for a state title against schools in the larger classification.

And to make things worse, they met Frederica, a soccer powerhouse that not only travels outside of the state, but is arguably as good -- or better -- than any team in Georgia.

The Lady Knights did not lose a game in Georgia all year.

Frederica (21-0-2) is a soccer factory. They don't have a football program, and over the years soccer has become the school's No. 1 sport, producing title teams, which in turn draws the top players from club soccer to the school. The results are predictable: The boys have won the last four state titles, and the girls have won five of the last six, including their third in a row at Macon on Saturday.

The Frederica girls are led by the best player in Georgia -- literally the best. Morgan Brian is the Gatorade Georgia Girls Soccer Player of the Year -- for all classes, public or private -- and also the captain of the U.S. Soccer Federation under-17 women's national team.

She scored six of Frederica's 11 goals. It took her just 1:18 to score her first goal, and less than 20 minutes to get a hat trick. She now has 32 goals during the high school season, which she plays at times when she is not with the national team.

Brian and Jessica Haley, who scored 29 goals during the regular season and added a goal and a couple of assists in the title game, dominated the game from start to finish. Oddly enough, even with the lopsided score, both star players, who are juniors, were on the field at the end of the game.

"I don't think it's fair. They're like junior Olympian soccer players, and they play soccer year-round while we play other sports,'' said Locke, a tough-as-nails midfielder who is a scrappy softball player and was the point guard for the state championship basketball team.

So what's better, being a one-sport all-star team or a team full of versatile kids who succeed in everything?

"I'd rather be good at everything,'' Locke said.

Locke was good enough to score on Frederica, which has allowed just one goal in the last three state title games. It came with 37 minutes left in the game when Locke scored on a breakaway. She led TAE in scoring with 12 goals this season.

Terrell Academy never backed down and played aggressively throughout the game -- the way they play every sport.

That was Locke's point. They do everything at Terrell Academy, and do everything well. That's why this group can shake off a loss like this one.

"Definitely,'' Foster said. "It will be a lot easier to get over this because we are mentally tough.''

Both Locke and Law left the game in the second half with a pair of yellow cards each, and Foster, who made 17 saves, including 12 in the first half, left the goal to play midfield down the stretch. Backup goalie Sam Fox made six saves, including two diving saves worthy of a highlight tape.

Foster is the heart of this team, and her brilliant play in the net kept the score somewhat respectable, considering Frederica outshot TAE, 42-4. Frederica had outscored opponents, 20-0, in the last two state title games.

"We were out of our league,'' said Terrell Academy coach VeAnn Farr, who took over the team after the first game (a loss) and led them to their best finish ever. "It's just a great accomplishment for our girls to get here. We were known for basketball. We were known for football (which TAE also won the state title). We were not known for soccer. Now we're known for soccer. We were second in the state.''

And as for forgetting the one-sided loss, almost everyone said they would forget about it by the time the bus got back to Dawson on Saturday night. Then there was Law, who probably spoke for the whole team.

"I've already forgotten it,'' she said.