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Soccer wins first ever state championship

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“We won state,” sophomore Erin Vana erupted after the varsity soccer team defeated the Austin Vandegrift Lady Vipers for the title of 5A State Champions April 18.

A year previous, almost exactly to the day, the girls experienced the agony of defeat at the very hands of the Lady Vipers. They used the loss in the 4A state final as their ultimate motivation and it has paid off wisely.

The team navigated through a treacherous season, transferring from 4A to 5A.

Their new district was tough according to the players and coaches, but the players progressed well.

The team followed up on a season that included a 21-2-1 record and consecutive victories over the past two 4A State Champions in the playoffs.

Unfortunately the Lady Raiders were not able to enjoy a better season, as they endured difficulties such as senior starting goalkeeper Brooke-Lynn Scroggins tearing her PCL in district play causing her to miss five games.

Junior midfielder Valiree Morris was hobbled for the majority of the season, with a broken toe and other minor nagging injuries.

“It was hard at times having key players injured but our team stepped up and took the challenge that was placed in front of us game by game,” junior forward Madison Simms said.

It was hard at times having key players injured but our team stepped up and took the challenge that was placed in front of us game by game,”

— Madison Simms, junior forward

The soccer team made it through their grueling district gauntlet on a hot streak. Scroggins was back with a vengeance, more than ready to lead her team for one last chance at a state championship.

They finished second in their district, the first time they have not been district champions in years.

“District definitely had its ups and downs,” Simms said. “It didn’t come as easy this year as last year but we knew what we were capable of.”

Instead of being discouraged, coach Kody Christensen shared the news with the team that having a #2 seed in the UIL regional playoffs promised to have an easier road to traverse.

The girls started off their playoffs against Frisco Liberty, winning 3-1 before cruising past Mesquite Poteet in the second round 1-0.

They then played Frisco Centennial, a game that was rumored to be a close fight, before destroying the Titans 5-1.

“It gave the whole team the feeling that we could actually get back to state as long as we play together,” Vana said. “It showed how good we are.”

The girls returned to the fourth round, in the regional semifinals against Mansfield Legacy and they once again cruised to a 3-0 win, setting up a very hyped game the next day versus undefeated Frisco.

Frisco, who had blown out nearly every team they played this season, came into the game hitting the Lady Raiders hard. It was a very physical match, resulting in two red cards for Frisco and one for East. The team went down 0-2 in the second half, before coming together to pull the unlikely win, 3-2 in overtime following penalty kick save by Scroggins.

“The emotional and physical toughness it took us to win the game against Frisco made us feel more ready than ever to take on state,” senior defender Sarah O’Neall said.

The players celebrated as they were placed in the state tournament for the second straight year, along with Austin Vandegrift.

The girls played April 16 against the Grapevine Lady Mustangs, pulling through a 2-1 win, setting up a rematch for the championship with the Lady Vipers.

“Going into the game, we knew it would be a battle,” junior defender Jordyn Perry said. “But we knew it was a battle we could win.”

The team faced the Lady Vipers April 18 in the championship game.

“Before the game I was nervous, because it’s the state championship,” Vana said. “But the moment the game started, I had a feeling we would win.”

The girls dominated the game, keeping possession on the attacking third, near Vandegrift’s goal. Many shots and opportunities came but none went through until sophomore Addie McCain played off a turnover by the Lady Viper’s defense and scored on a strike 20 yards out. McCain’s single goal was the only one of the game earning her the title of Most Valuable Player for the championship.

The Lady Raiders’ held on to win the first state title in history.

“Meeting up with Vandegrift in the state final was not a threat to our team, but a second chance and a time to get revenge,” Simms said. “I am so proud of our team.”

The win was extremely emotional for the team as well as goalie Scroggins, whose dad has been in the hospital for the past month. As soon as the game ended, she ran over to the sidelines to her mother and called her father at the hospital.

Breaking down on the sideline, the first thing Scroggins told her father was “We’re state champions,” as the fans cheered behind her.

“The girls fought their hardest; I knew they could do it,” Perry, who was unable to play due to an injury, said.

Their emotions are high, as each girl on the team is still in shock that she is a State Champion.

“Being a state champion is an indescribable feeling and Glory to God for an unforgettable journey,” Simms said.

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Michael Turner, former Editor in Chief

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Soccer wins first ever state championship