Dooley leads Raptors back to title game

The last time Academic Magnet lost to Christ Church in a state championship game, the Raptors’ Jesse Dooley missed most of the match with a knee injury.

The two outcomes were not unrelated in that 2012 title tilt, which Christ Church won, 2-0.

“It was not fun,” recalls Dooley, now a senior. “It’s kind of been our goal to beat them every year since then.”

Dooley and her Academic Magnet teammates will go for their third straight state championship win over Christ Church on Friday when the two powerhouse programs meet for the Class AA girls’ soccer title for the fifth straight year. The match is set for 3 p.m. at River Bluff High School in Lexington. At 7 p.m., Wando’s girls take on J.L. Mann for the AAAA state championship.

The Raptors’ return to the state title game is due in no small part to the role played by Dooley, who has blossomed from a running mate to former Magnet All-American Kallie Peurifoy (now a sophomore at Virginia Tech) to a star in her own right.

Dooley, who has signed with UNC Asheville, has scored 31 goals with 12 assists this season, and chalked up the 100th goal of her career in Monday’s 3-1 win over Bishop England in the Lower State finals. That leaves her just short of Peuirfoy’s school record of 107 career goals.

Raptors coach Anna Merriman said it’s fitting that those two players are grouped together.

“Jesse came in as a freshman, and we knew right away she was going to be a great talent,” said Merriman, whose team has won three of the last four state titles. “More than anything, having the opportunity to play with Kallie was great for her. They are very close in friendship and in numbers.

“I think Kallie helped mold Jesse into the goal scorer she is. They were really a fun dynamic duo to watch, the way they combined up and down the field and knew where the other would be. If one scored a goal, it was usually with an assist from the other.”

Dooley said she did learn a lot from Peurifoy, and has been able to apply those lessons this season with junior Lexi Polcyn.

“Kallie was fantastic at one-two balls and passing,” Dooley said. “She got the game going, playing quickly, and she passed that on to me, and I think Lexi and I play the same way Kallie and I used to play.”

Aside from scoring goals like Peurifoy, Dooley has stepped into a similar role as team leader, Merriman said.

“Now Jesse is the more senior player, and she’s done the same thing as Kallie with some of our younger forwards,” Merriman said. “Jesse and Lexi have combine for many a goal last year and this year, and they have sort of that same dynamic duo quality that Jesse and Kallie did. Jesse has gone from sort of the trainee to the mentor.”

Dooley, whose older sister Erin plays soccer at Lander University, has plenty of help on the Raptors’ side. Academic Magnet has lost only to AAAA Upper State champ J.L. Mann this season, and played AAAA powers Lexington and Dutch Fork to ties. Their victories include a win over Georgia AAAAA power Grayson.

Polcyn has scored 15 goals and freshman Abby Tickle has 14 for the Raptors this season. Dooley and fellow senior Becca Bosch will play in the Clash of the Carolinas all-star game on June 27 at Blackbaud Stadium. Keeper Chris Sacha and center back Caroline Smith will play in the North-South All-Star Game on June 13 at Patriots Point. Junior Maddy Carnes and senior Marin Miller made the Class AA all-state team along with Dooley and Bosch.

Friday’s match marks the last time this particular group will play together.

“It’s sad in a way because I love my team so much,” Dooley said. “But at the same time, you have to move on to the next step in life.”

Wando’s girls’ team will go after its third straight state championship and seventh in nine years against Upper State champ J.L Mann at 7 p.m.

Coach Shannon Champ’s Warriors won back-to-back titles in 2006-7, 2009-10 and 2013-14, but have yet to win three straight. Wando has beaten J.L. Mann in the last two title games.

“This the year we have to break the pattern,” said Champ, whose team is 19-2 this season with losses only to Georgia schools Parkview and Peachtree Ridge.

Wando seniors Katie Leen and all-state pick Raymara Barretto were selected to the Clash of the Carolinas.

J.L. Mann is 25-1-1 this season, with a 2-0 loss to Spring Valley and a 4-4 tie against Ashley Ridge. Wando and J.L. Mann played to a scoreless tie during a preseason scrimmage.

Mann is led by all-state players in midfielder Meredith Bailey, keeper Molly Lynch, defender Emily Malone and forwards Claudia Murphy and Libby Stahlman.

“I feel so proud of these girls. Every year, our team is flourishing with people stepping up,” J.L. Mann coach Tasos Georgopoulos said after a 2-1 win over Dutch Fork in the Upper State title game. “We are more experienced this year, and I think we’re going to do really well.”


Class AAAA

Carolina Forest at Wando, 6 p.m.

Northwestern at J.L. Mann

Class AAA

Hartsville at Berkeley

Class AA

Bishop England at Dillon


Class AAAA

Wando at Summerville, 5:30 p.m.

Class AAA

Hanahan at Berkeley