Academic Magnet girls make it three in a row

Academic Magnet celebrates the championship. The Academic Magnet Raptors claimed the Class AA Girls Soccer Championship with a 4-0 win over the Christ Church Cavaliers at River Bluff High School in Columbia Friday May 15, 2015. Gwinn Davis / Special to the Post and Courier

Academic Magnet won its third consecutive AA state girls soccer title on Friday, beating Christ Church, 4-0.

Junior Maddie Carens scored two goals and senior Jesse Dooley had two assists to lead the Raptors to their 20th win of the season. Academic Magnet finishes the season with one loss — to Class AAAA state finalist J.L. Mann.

The Raptors and Cavaliers met for the fifth straight year in the finals and Academic Magnet now has four titles in that span.

“It never gets old, never,” said Academic Magnet coach Anna Merriman. “The soccer season is so long. We start training in January and here we are in mid-May. Our players have been through AP exams and the playoffs and it really has been tough on them mentally. I told them we just needed one more day to show up and give it all we’ve got. These girls responded great, as I knew they would.”

It took eight minutes for the Raptors to break a scoreless tie when Jesse Dooley delivered a corner kick off the head of Marin Miller for a 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later, the Raptors scored again — this time on a 15-yard lazer off the foot of Maddie Carens that found the upper right corner of the goal.

“I think our experience in this game certainly was a big thing and it helped us get off to the fast start,” said Merriman. “I could sense we were ready to play during wamups.”

While controlling play for most of the game, Academic Magnet put a capper on the championship with Alexis Polcyn scoring on another assist from Dooley in the 67th minute.

For good measure, Carens added her second score of the afternoon six minutes later.

“Maddy scored a goal in last year’s championship game and she’s really such a fantastic player for us,” said Merriman.

With the loss of nine seniors from this year’s roster, Merriman will look to underclassmen like Carens, Polcyn and Allyson Peurifoy to lead the charge for a four-peat. However, Merriman admits replacing the nine upperclassmen will be tough to do.

“They leave such a legacy behind and it will be tough to replace them,” said Merriman. “They raised the bar pretty high, but we’ve had seniors leave before and the next group is always ready to make their own mark. We want to enjoy this one, but we’ll be looking forward to next year.”