Vandebilt girls ride big second half to victory over Sacred Heart in Division III title game _lowres

Photo by JOSEPH HALM – Vandebilt’s Julia Hebert (left) and Sacred Heart’s Lucy Hammet (right) battle for possession during the Division III girls soccer state championship match at Tad Gormley Stadium on Thursday.

Top-seeded Vandebilt erased some painful memories Thursday night, and Terriers coach Philip Amedee pinpointed the exact moment his team’s state title run actually began.

“This started last year when we lost to Lakeshore in the quarterfinals,” he said. “The girls were determined that they were going to bring the trophy back to Houma, and they played like that tonight. Time and time again, they answered the challenge, and that’s what we did tonight. This is awesome.”

The Terriers posted three second-half goals en route to a 3-1 victory over second-seeded Sacred Heart in the Division III girls soccer state championship match at Tad Gormley Stadium.

“It feels amazing,” said Most Outstanding Player junior Grace Champagne, who finished with a goal and assist. “We’ve worked so long and hard all year, so this just feels great. We knew what we had to do in the second half.

“We wanted to score early because it gives us a confidence boast. We felt like we had the game in the first half, so if we put a couple away after halftime, we could win it.”

After a scoreless first half, it took the Terriers (28-3-3) just five minutes to score as sophomore Molly Thompson converted a rebound from Hannah Cueno’s initial shot for a 1-0 lead. Just two minutes later, Champagne scored to make it 2-0.

“The difference in the game was the first seven or eight minutes in the second half because we couldn’t stop them,” Sacred Heart coach Tooraj Badie said. “Maybe we relaxed a little bit because we had the wind, but they came out strong, and that was the difference in the game. I think the girls showed character to get a goal back, but the third goal finished it.”

The Cardinals (16-5-3) answered in the 59th minute as senior Emily Hardie scored on a penalty kick after a handball in the box.

Sacred Heart continued to pressure as Addie Roemershauser’s shot sailed just over the crossbar in the 74th minute, and Caroline Licciardi’s free kick was saved by junior keeper Emma Guidry just two minutes later.

Cuneo added a goal in the 77th minute to seal Vandebilt’s first state title since 2009. It was Vandebilt’s seventh title match appearance in the past 10 years and third state championship.

Sacred Heart was looking for its ninth state title, but Badie said despite the loss, it was a memorable season.

“It was a great season,” he said. “I’m so proud of this group. They worked hard. There were no superstars on this team. Everybody chipped in and helped each other. It was nice to see that. That’s what makes the loss so hard. They worked so hard to get here, so I’m just sad for the seniors.”