Special season for Cougars
Published 1:17 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
An exceptional season came to a heart-breaking conclusion for the Lafayette Christian School girls’ soccer team.
In a power-house semifinal matchup featuring the teams with the best records in the league, Lafayette Christian and Cherokee Christian faced off on a warm Tuesday afternoon with a berth in the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association championship game on the line.
They went back-and-forth, trading punch for punch, and when the final horn sounded it was Cherokee Christian walking away with a thrilling 4-3 victory.
Cate Skipworth, part of a talented group of seniors, scored all three goals for Lafayette Christian.
Cherokee Christian will play for the state championship on Saturday, while Lafayette Christian finished its season with a stellar 9-2-1 record.
“We were the top two teams in the league as far as record this year,” Lafayette Christian head coach Shannon Powell said. “It’s just unfortunate that it wasn’t in the finals.”
Lafayette Christian won the Region 4-AA championship to qualify for state, and it beat Westminster Christian Academy in the first round of the playoffs to set up Tuesday’s showdown.
Cherokee Christian, the champion of Region 1-AA, beat CrossPointe Christian Academy in its opening-round matchup.
“I told the girls, Lafayette has never been past the second round, and it’s always been tough,” Powell said. “I wish they were on the other side of the bracket and we’d seen them in the finals. They’ll win handily whoever they meet. We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in.”
Three times in Tuesday’s game the Lady Cougars fell behind, and three times they fought back to tie it.
Trailing 3-2, Lafayette Christian was awarded a penalty kick because a Cherokee Christian player touched the ball with her hand in the box.
Skipworth converted the penalty kick, and the game was tied 3-3 with less than 20 minutes to play.
A few minutes later Cherokee Christian scored off a corner kick to reclaim the lead, and this time Lafayette Christian was unable to answer.
It was a tough loss, but Powell felt the players gave it all they had, which is all he wanted.
“I told the girls, I want you coming off the field saying I’m glad I did, rather than I wish I had,” Powell said. “Don’t come off the field saying I wish I had. Come off the field saying I’m glad I played my hardest, and I gave my all, and I did my best. I didn’t want them walking off saying I wish I had. And I think they did. They were playing behind the whole game and kept battling it out.”
OF NOTE: It was the final game for Lafayette Christian’s five seniors, Yuna Jeong, Cate Skipworth, Katie Bell Oliver, Lauren Stricker and Olivia Tompa.