Avenging its lone loss of the regular season, No. 2-seeded St. Scholastica wasted no time securing a berth in their seventh consecutive state championship match.
Three first-half goals in the span of six minutes helped propel SSA to a 4-0 win over No. 3 Dominican in the Division I state semifinals Friday night.
With the win, the Doves (20-1-3), advance to take on top-seeded Mount Carmel in Division I final. State Title game. Mount Carmel defeated Mandeville 4-1 in the other semifinal.
Pounding the Dominican goal with double-digit shots in the first half, the Doves broke through in the 21st minute, when Victoria Quiroz’s shot found the back of the net.
“This whole week of practice we have just been thinking about getting off to a good start and more importantly a quick start,” Vercher said. “We knew we had to push ourselves as far as we possibly could and even further than we are capable of.
“I don’t think the loss in the regular season to those guys (Dominican) really had any sort of effect on us (Friday night). Teams lose all the time. That game was a long way from the kind of team we are today and now.”
Taking advantage of the momentum created by the first goal, Sam Vercher made it 2-0 with a goal in the 25th minute.
Two minutes later, Zoe Perrin’s header off of a corner kick made it 3-0.
In the 39th minute, a 25-yard shot by Vercher gave the junior her second goal and a 4-0 lead for St. Scholastica.
“Honestly I don’t remember my first goal,” Vercher said. “The funny thing is on the second goal, how I scored, I have been practicing for a long time. Now we get a chance to play for a state championship. We don’t really say we are defending a title because we are such a different team.”
In addition to a productive offens, the St. Scholastica defense continued to be stellar with yet another shutout. Goalkeeper Elizabeth Kalmbach, who is only in the 8th grade, and the Doves defense, has not given up a goal in four playoff games.
“Knowing that we have that kind of offensive attack that can get multiple goals each game just makes the job of the goalkeeper that much easier,” Kalmbach said.
Vercher said her eighth- grade teammate in goal plays well beyond her age.
“Knowing she (Kalmbach) is back there just makes us that much better,” she said, “because we can focus that much more on trying to score goals.”