IRMO – An aggressive early-season schedule yielded an 0-3-1 record for the St. Joseph’s girls soccer team. The defending Class AA champs persevered, however, and the payoff was a second trophy.
The Knights defeated Christ Church Episcopal School 2-0 Saturday in the state title match at Irmo High school. Senior Bailey Manfredi and freshman Caroline Getz scored for St. Joseph’s.
“We challenged ourselves early, playing 5A schools, and we just kept getting better and better,” St. Joseph’s coach Rick Morris said after the game. “It definitely paid off.”
In a matchup of Greenville County private school rivals, the Knights (13-4-1) denied the Cavaliers (17-2) their first title since 2012. The Cavaliers fell in the state semifinals in 2021.
Live Updates:SCHSL boys and girls soccer state championships at Irmo High School
Back-to-back:Christ Church boys soccer wins second straight Class AA state championship, beats GCA
“My girls played with heart for 80 minutes and never quit,” CCES coach Ashley Seeley said. “We’re losing two seniors. We’ll be back.”
The Knights, who have nine seniors on their roster, kept the ball in the Christ Church end of the field for most of the first 10 minutes, but were unable to generate many scoring opportunities. The Cavaliers penetrated the St. Joseph’s defense several times over the next 10 minutes, but shots were still hard to come by for either team.
“We just couldn’t finish,” Seeley said.
With 17 minutes left, Ansley Epley sent a free kick straight to St. Joseph’s goalkeeper Maggie Peterson. The action then built down to the other end of the field.
With 14 minutes left in first half, Manfredi earned a free kick. She pounded her service hard and low, deflecting off CCES’ Lauren Monday, past goalkeeper Jasmine Ford and inside the far post for a 1-0 lead.
“That’s kind of my sweet spot,” Manfredi said of the location of her kick, just outside the left point of the 18-yard box. “But it takes more than one person to win a game.”
The Knights had a couple more chances in the last five minutes of the half. Manfredi took a shot from the corner as well as two that went over the post. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers were unable to create good scoring chances when they had the ball at the St. Joseph’s end.
HS Soccer:How Jack Redmond’s goal ‘finally’ gave Eastside boys soccer a state championship
How they fared:South Carolina high school soccer state championship schedule, scores
“We’re a great passing team, but we just weren’t finding any feet,” said CCES junior midfielder Maggie Rogers.
Six minutes into the second half, the Knights put the game away.
Lily Van Pelt sent a long pass into the heart of the CCES defense that teammate Getz tracked down. Getz cracked a low shot to the left of Ford for a 2-0 lead.
“In a lot of previous games, we’ve been in positions like that, so we were prepared for it,” Getz said. “These seniors deserved another win.”
Morris said the secret to the St. Joseph’s defense was its back line, which was boosted by the addition of Bryn Bissinger.
“We haven’t been scored on in the past 10 games,” he said. “Today kind of went the way I expected.”
The Knights lost to Academic Magnet in the 2017 state title match. The Cavaliers also won a SC High School League title in 2001. They have 10 runner-up finishes, including four in a row from 2013-16.
The Cavaliers’ only loss heading into the match was to Riverside in the last game of the regular season. The Knights had advanced to the finals by virtue of three straight playoff shutouts, outscoring their opponents 28-0.