Seaforth girls soccer coach and players reflect on resilience and the championship victory

By Gene Galin

Matthews, NC – The Seaforth Hawks girls soccer team clinched their first-ever state championship in a dramatic fashion. Overcoming early setbacks and demonstrating exceptional resilience, the Hawks defeated their formidable opponent, Pine Lake Prep, in a nail-biting final that saw them emerge victorious through a penalty shootout.

The Road to Glory

The journey to the championship was anything but straightforward for the Seaforth Lady Hawks. Throughout the season, the team faced numerous challenges, including adverse weather conditions, tough competitors, and the pressures of maintaining high performance. Despite these hurdles, the Hawks remained undeterred, showcasing their unwavering dedication and team spirit.

Head coach Giovanni Viana praised his team’s determination and work ethic, highlighting the significance of their hard-fought victory. “We’ve talked about this moment and now we’ve made it happen. Few times in life do you get to make your dreams come true, and we did that tonight,” Viana said. “This win is a testament to our resilience and our ability to overcome adversity.”

A Stellar Defense: Katie Leonard’s Heroics

One of the standout moments of the final match was the exceptional performance of sophomore goalkeeper Katie Leonard. Throughout the game, Leonard faced a barrage of shots from the opposing team, yet she remained composed and focused, making several crucial saves that kept her team in the game. Her efforts culminated in a pivotal moment during the penalty shootout, where her decisive save paved the way for the Hawks’ victory.

Reflecting on her performance, Leonard credited her teammates for their strong defensive play. “Our defense is very strong, and they take away a lot of shots that I can’t save. They give me the ones that I can, and I make it happen,” Leonard explained. “In the shootout, I just tried to stay focused and threw my whole body at it. I’m glad I could make that save for my team.”

Coach Viana lauded Leonard’s contributions, calling her “Superwoman” and emphasizing her crucial role in the team’s success. “Katie was beyond amazing today. She saved our bacon, and that’s why she’s the MVP,” he declared.

A Team Effort: Key Players and Their Contributions

While Leonard’s heroics were vital, the championship win was truly a team effort. Freshman Lizzie Platt, who scored the game-winning goal during the penalty shootout, exemplified the team’s collective determination. Platt stepped up at a critical moment, showing poise beyond her years. “I wasn’t really prepared to take one today, but I ended up switching last minute. I just stepped up, sent it to the corner, and it went in,” Platt recounted.

The team’s resilience was evident throughout the season, as they navigated various obstacles and consistently performed at a high level. From battling through harsh weather conditions to overcoming last-minute goals by opponents, the Lady Hawks demonstrated an unyielding spirit that carried them to the championship.

Building a Legacy: The Future of Seaforth Girls Soccer

The Lady Hawks’ championship victory marks a significant milestone in the young program’s history. As the team looks ahead, the future appears bright with the majority of the squad set to return next season. Coach Viana expressed confidence in the team’s potential to build on their success and continue to compete at a high level.

“We’re thinking repeat,” Viana stated. “We have a young team that will be more mature, older, faster, and stronger next year. Our program is solid, and we will be competing for regionals and hopefully another state title in the next two years.”

This confidence is bolstered by the return of key players who have gained invaluable experience from this season’s triumph. With the foundation laid by this championship win, the Seaforth Lady Hawks are poised to become a powerhouse in high school girls soccer.

The Championship Game: A Quick Breakdown

First Half: A Slow Start

The championship game began with the Lady Hawks appearing slightly off their usual pace. The opposing team, known for their physical and aggressive play, took advantage of this, creating several scoring opportunities early on. However, the Hawks’ defense, anchored by Leonard, managed to withstand the pressure, preventing any early goals.

“We just needed to settle in,” Coach Viana explained. “We knew the first half would be tough, but our strategy was to keep our composure and wait for our opportunities.”

Second Half: Finding Their Rhythm

As the second half commenced, the Hawks began to find their rhythm. They improved their ball movement and increased their offensive pressure. The team’s ability to possess and pass the ball became more evident, creating several scoring chances. Despite their efforts, the game remained scoreless, leading to an intense period of double overtime.

“At halftime, we just reminded the girls to keep moving and playing our game,” Giovanni Viana said. “We possess the ball like no one else, and it was just a matter of time before things would click.”

Double Overtime: Endurance and Determination

The double overtime period was a true test of endurance and determination for both teams. The physical and mental fatigue was palpable, yet the Hawks continued to push forward. Their persistence paid off when they managed to secure a penalty shootout, a testament to their resilience and fighting spirit.

“It was a grueling game, but our girls never gave up,” Viana noted. “They showed incredible heart and determination, which ultimately made the difference.”

Penalty Shootout: A Moment of Triumph

The penalty shootout was the climax of the championship match, with the outcome hanging in the balance. Each team took turns at the spot, with both sides converting their initial attempts. The tension reached its peak when Leonard made her crucial save, giving the Hawks the opportunity to secure the win.

Platt’s decisive goal followed, sealing the championship for the Hawks and sparking jubilant celebrations among the players, coaches, and supporters.

A Historic Win and a Promising Future

The Seaforth Hawks’ state championship victory is a landmark achievement for the team. It highlights the power of teamwork, resilience, and dedication. As the Hawks celebrate their triumph, they also look ahead with optimism, ready to build on their success and continue their journey of excellence in high school girls soccer. With a young, talented roster and a strong foundation, the team is poised to achieve even greater heights in the coming years. As Coach Viana aptly put it, “We’re just getting started.”

Watch on YouTube – Seaforth Girls Soccer Coach and Players Reflect on Resilience and Victory

00:15 Seaforth Girls Soccer team celebrates being state champions

  • The players express their joy and gratitude for achieving their dream of becoming state champions.
  • Despite facing challenges, the team’s resilience and determination led them to victory, showcasing their strength as a team.

01:10 Overcoming adversity and achieving success through perseverance

  • Despite facing various challenges throughout the season, the team fought through and ultimately succeeded.
  • Goalkeeper Katie showcased her focus and determination, handling the pressure of important games and staying locked in during key moments.

01:58 Goalkeeper Katie shines in Championship win

  • Teammates and strong defense help Katie save crucial shots
  • Coach praises Katie as Superwoman for game-winning saves

02:40 Key save and game-winning goal discussed

  • Goalkeeper’s perspective on the save and decision-making process
  • Player’s unexpected role in taking the game-winning penalty kick

03:29 Building for a repeat championship with a strong returning team

  • Freshman made the game-winning goal, sophomore played exceptionally well
  • Team focused on being more mature, older, faster, and stronger to repeat championship

04:18 Stay humble, work hard, and aim for repeat success.

  • Lizzie focuses on relaxation and staying calm before taking the shot.
  • Coach explains not wearing hat at night to avoid burning scalp.

05:07 Players learning movement and resilience from coach and team

  • Players learned importance of continuous movement from coach
  • Team showed resilience against older, physical opponents, showcasing character and fighting spirit

06:00 The team fought through challenges and showed resilience in the championship win.

  • Coach acknowledges the young players struggled against older, aggressive team.
  • The team had a much better second half and remained resilient through double overtimes.