COLUMBIA — Porter-Gaud’s quest for a girls soccer championship came up just short on Saturday as Cardinal Newman repeated as SCISA AAA state champion with a 2-0 victory at Stone Stadium.
Cardinal Newman scored once in each half en route to the victory while Porter-Gaud narrowly missed several early scoring chances.
Porter-Gaud’s season ends with a 20-4 record in Daniel Jordan’s first season as coach.
“Maybe if we score one of those early goals, things end up different, but credit Cardinal Newman for getting the job done,” said Jordan. “I thought the teams were pretty evenly matched and until that second goal went in, it was up for grabs. Getting down by two made it really tough.”
Porter-Gaud had several early scoring opportunities in the first 25 minutes but came up empty. Gracie Mogul’s shot 15 minutes into the match hit the post and bounced away, and five minutes later Tahirih Nesmith’s header on a corner kick hit the cross bar.
Later in the half, Alexis Ball got off a clear shot but Cardinal Newman’s all-state keeper Molly Rainwater hauled it in.
Cardinal Newman took a 1-0 lead at the half on a header from Ashley Brown with 11:37 left in the period.
The clinching goal came with 12:58 left in the match when Cardinal Newman’s Sophie Cobb beat keeper Annie Hay from 10 yards out for a 2-0 advantage.
“I thought the size of the field, which is a lot wider than we’re used to, hurt us some but both teams had to play on it,” said Jordan.
Porter-Gaud won a state title in 2002 but was making its first appearance in a title game since that win. The program suffered through several losing seasons and first-round playoff exits but Jordan feels more extended playoff appearances are in the offing for his program.
“We lose one senior starter and have a huge crop of underclassmen coming back so we should be very competitive next year.” said the coach. “We were trying to win this one today for sure but we’ll start over next year and try to win that one. I was lucky to come here into a situation where there were some good players. I expected us to do well but I admit I am pleasantly surprised with how it all turned out.
“We’re a little disappointed right now but I think tomorrow they will realize the kind of season they had and be very proud. It’s always tough to get this far and come up a little short.”