The Sacred Heart Lady Crusaders’ quest for a fifth straight Class 1A/2A/3A State Championship fell on a heartbreaking 3-1 defeat by the hands of the St. Andrews Lady Saints in Ridgeland.
“I’m proud of my girls. I love them and they never once quit. That is what it is all about. I know we will be back here next season and I expect things to be a little bit different,” said Joseph Falla Sr.
St. Andrews Episcopal struck first as Kira Leflore found the net after a corner kick in the ninth minute, putting the Saints ahead 1-0.
Sacred Heart sophomore Gracie Falla answered back as she streaked down the right side of the field, hitting a hard strike into the net to tie things up in the 16th minute 1-1 that held throughout the first half.
St. Andrews came out furious in the second half, scoring in the second minute and 42nd overall minute of play as Phoebe Xu found the Sacred Heart netting.
A goal from junior Samantha Smith 14 minutes later in the 56th minute put a cap on things for the Lady Saints as they went up 3-1 over the Lady Crusaders.
“We never cleared the ball out. It was the same thing that happened before [on the first goal]. My message to them was that I wanted the ball cleared out, but we didn’t. We played inside of the penalty area and that is where the problems started,” explained Falla on the two St. Andrews second-half goals.
Sacred Heart attempted to rally with multiple shots on goal late, but they could not find the back of the St. Andrews goal to pull closer as they fell by a final of 3-1.
“The program is strong. As long as I am in there, I will keep this program strong, I promise you that. We will be here again and the results will be different,” stated Falla Sr.
Sacred Heart’s lone goal was by sophomore Gracie Falla, and Falla Sr. was thrilled with how she fought throughout the contest.
“Gracie is a workhorse. She is a player and a workhorse. Without her, this team would be different. I’m proud of her and everyone,” explained Falla.
Sacred Heart finishes its season 13-8 overall and as reigning South State Champions.