The Flowery Branch girls soccer team’s Class 4A championship bid came up just one game short.
The Lady Falcons advanced deeper into the state tournament than any Flowery Branch soccer team before them, but were overwhelmed in a 6-0 defeat at the hands of St. Pius X in Friday’s 4A championship game at Five Star Stadium in Macon.
“Collectively, we were just a step behind,” Lady Falcons coach Anel Lilic said.
The Lady Golden Lions controlled the ball for much of the opening half of the game, but struggled to find the back of the net until the final five minutes before halftime.
A bicycle kick from St. Pius X’s Helen Cherry in the 35th minute and then a goal from Renee Lyles on a breakaway in the 40th put the Lady Golden Lions up 2-0 at halftime.
“We were a little bit behind in a lot of things to start off,” Lilic said.
Flowery Branch played a more open game in the second half in an effort to even the score, but the plan did not work out in the Lady Falcons’ favor.
St. Pius X scored in the 47th minute to go up by three goals, and then added three more in the final 20 minutes of the game to stifle any chance of a Flowery Branch comeback.
“In that second half when it was a little bit more open, we were hoping to get a few goals and get a little bit lucky for them to miss some chances,” Lilic said. “But it went the other way. We didn’t really create anything that was threatening.”
Friday’s result was not one the Lady Falcons were hoping for, but Lilic said the experience of participating in a state title game is one he and his team will treasure for the rest of their lives.
For the players returning to the squad next year, it adds fuel to the ever-burning desire the program has to earn its first soccer state championship.
“I’m hoping that this experience, coming here and being able to be part of the state championship, makes the returning players hungry to want to come back and participate again and get a different result,” Lilic said.
For the seniors who have played their final contest for Flowery Branch, the loss provides a somber end to a career otherwise filled with success — including reaching at least the state semifinals in each of their last two seasons.
“I had a great feeling about this team,” senior Caroline Wysocki said. “It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t win, but that’s just how it goes.”