In what will be a rematch of last year’s championship matchup, Pinewood Prep and Porter-Gaud will battle on Saturday for the SCISA Class AAA state title in girls soccer.
Both teams took care of business in their semi-final contests on Thursday. Porter-Gaud, the defending state AAA champion, went on the road and posted a 4-1 win over Hammond. Pinewood Prep needed two overtimes to take down visiting Cardinal Newman, 2-1.
Saturday’s championship contest will be at 3 p.m. at Porter-Gaud. The teams split games during the region schedule, Porter-Gaud winning 1-0 and Pinewood Prep winning 2-0 to win the region.
“Certainly we know each other very well and it’s going to be a real battle,” Pinewood Prep coach Gail Osborne said. “It will probably be a real defensive game. This was huge for us tonight, to get past this game.”
After a scoreless first half, Pinewood Prep fell behind in the third minute of the second half. They managed to tie the game on Jessica Osborne’s header off a beautifully placed Riley Cox corner kick.
“We’ve been talking about the mental side of the game all year,” Osborne said. “Talking about if we go up a goal, down a goal, just keep fighting and fighting. I just knew we had it in us. That’s the kind of grit we’ve had all year.”
The teams were scoreless through the first 10-minute overtime session but the Panthers changed that in less than two minutes of the second overtime when Abbey Martichenko tallied a score off an assist from Osborne.
“We’ve been joking all year about Abbey scoring because she never scores,” said Osborne, who guided Pinewood Prep to a state title in 2015. “We keep saying she’s going to score in the most important game and she did tonight. I think that’s her second goal. She plays tirelessly all over the field and it was pretty cool she scored tonight.”
In Porter-Gaud’s win, the Cyclones scored two first-half goals and never trailed. Coach Hope Walters got goals from Candler Fontaine, Abi Stock, Evan Gilbert and Sarah Burns Gibson.
“We got off to a great start and that really helped us settle down and relax a little,” Walters said. “Hammond came out with a quick goal to start the second half, but Evan answered almost immediately, which was huge. We played with so much heart and really fought hard.”
Walters’ team suffered seven losses during the season, including a pair of close losses to area powerhouse Bishop England. Though they dropped a decision to Pinewood Prep very late in the season, Walters likes the way her team is playing.
“We’ve kind of hit our stride, peaking at the right time,” the coach said. “We have to do it one more time. When you get to the final four, any of these matchups would have been a great championship game.”