Visions of a state championship didn’t come to fruition, but the Starr’s Mill Lady Panthers still have a dream season they can be proud of. The Panthers came up just one win short of a championship, falling 15-7 to the Blessed Trinity Titans Saturday afternoon at Kennesaw State.
Winners of two straight crowns, Blessed Trinity showed the experience of a team that has been in the title game before. Less than a minute into the game, Lizzy Murphy opened the scoring. Starr’s Mill’s Caroline Broderick tied the game off a Jacqueline Broderick assist, but the Titans responded with eight straight goals to build up a commanding lead.
Elizabeth Holley got the Panthers back on the board with a goal with six minutes left in the half, the final strike in the first half.
Blessed Trinity built on their 9-2 lead with two quick goals after the break, but Starr’s Mill wouldn’t go away. Ryanne King spun loose of the defense and scored, and Alexis Coullias made it two straight as the Panthers pulled within 11-4 early in the second half.
Two Titan goals kept the cushion up, but Jordyn Richards scored, and King and Coullias each posted their second goals to make it 13-7 with less than 15 minutes left.
After Starr’s Mill’s final goal, Blessed Trinity went into prevent mode, holding onto the ball to burn off the game’s final minutes. Two goals in the final minute provided the 15-7 final tally.
Battling through a hand injury, sophomore goalie Karlee Jenks tallied a number of big saves before giving way to freshman Kaitlyn Donovan late.
Through a challenging regular season and brutal playoff push, the Panthers showed they belong among the state’s elite, finishing with a stellar 18-3 record. For the third straight season, they won the area title, and they followed that up with a dominant run through the first three rounds of the playoffs, beating Woodward Academy, Wesleyan, and four-time champion Westminster by a combined 51-15. Only the now winners of three-straight titles could put an end to Starr’s Mill’s run.
The senior class of Payton McDaniel, Elizabeth Holley, Caroline Broderick, and Alexis Coullias have helped pushed the program to new heights and leave a blueprint for success for future squads.
“They’re going to be terribly missed,” said Coach Mary Lehman. “Those kids always showed great leadership.”
What returns next year is a load of talent with big-game experience and promise for more.
“It was our first time ever being here. We’ve just got to learn from this, and we’ll be back.”
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