Deerfield-Windsor head coach Aly Joslin.
SPECIAL TO THE HERALD
MACON — It was only fitting that the last goal of the Stratford season was the same as so many had been the entire season.
Allie Hale with the goal with the assist from Haley Tidwell.
That came with only a minute left in the GISA Class AAA girls state soccer game as the Lady Eagles overcame a slow start to dominate Deerfield-Windsor, 8-0.
It was the Lady Knights’ first time in a state championship game and it would have been the program’s first state title, but they proved to be no match for the Lady Eagles.
“I thought we came out with the intensity that we had to, but we just could not sustain it for the entire game,” Deerfield coach Aly Joslin said. “They deserved to win the state championship.”
Hale the all-time leading scorer in Stratford history, scored four goals to end her career with 209.
Tidwell, the all-time assists leader, had a goal and two assists ending her career with 103 assists.
“It hasn’t hit me yet that it’s over, said Hale, who will play her college soccer at Reinhardt with her twin sister Katie. “This was just like the perfect season for us. We stay healthy and just worked hard all year with the goal of winning state. I wanted the last goal so bad because it wqas one more from Haley. But I thought it was just a great team effort.”
Deerfield-Windsor was not going to make it easy as it came out and played a very physical brand of soccer that frustrated Stratford for most of the first half. But a huge break in the 20th minute seemed to take some of the wind out of the Lady Knights’ sails. Shelby Walker kicked a ball from the right side of the field near the goal and before DWS keeper Lexi Harrison could get there, the ball took a huge bounce over the keeper’s head for the score. The goal settled the Eagles down and they scored again 13 minutes later when Elizabeth Fuller drilled a shot from 20 yards that was just too high for Harrison to get to.
“Those were two very unfortunate mistakes that we made and when we are playing a team as good as Stratford, you just can’t make those mistakes,” Joslin said.
The second half was a different story as Tidwell passed to Hale in the first minute of the period, and the opened the floodgates. Katie Hale scored 15 minutes later to make it 4-0, followed by Tidwell a few minutes later. Hale would cap the night with three more goals in the last nine minutes of the game.
“I thought it was pretty special to go out in a dominating way, said Tidwell, who says her soccer career is over, except for maybe playing for fun. “I said a few weeks ago that if we didn’t win it all that this year would be a disappointment, and I think that’s the way we all felt. We were never cocky, but we were very confident. I am sure I will miss soccer a lot, but I will miss this team even more.
The Lady Knights, who lost for the first time in 11 games to finish the season 16-4 overall, lose six seniors — Harrison, Mackenzie Hudson, Emily Murphy, Maggie Green, Bailey Weed and Casey Kincheloe.
Kincheloe finished her career at DWS as the all-time leading scorer with 117 goals. She finished her senior season with 45 — two shy of the program’s single-season record she set as a junior.
Stratford head coach Andrew Myler ends his first year of being a head coach as an undefeated state champion.
It’s Stratford’s 14th girls soccer state title.