The Trinity Lady Lions soccer team is two wins away from becoming state champs.
Trinity scored three goals in the first half and Lady Lions goalkeeper Cheyenne Teems made a clutch second-half save to give Trinity the 3-2 win over the Westminster Lady Wildcats Thursday evening in the GISA Class AAA state quarterfinals at home.
Trinity improves to 17-1-1 with its 12th straight victory and the Lady Lions advance to the state Final Four for the first time in team history. Trinity will play the First Presbyterian Christian-Monsignor Donovan winner May 19 at 1 p.m. at Mercer University in Macon. The 2017 season ends for Westminster.
Thursday’s match was deadlocked at zero in the first half until Trinity junior Abby Bragg sent a shot high over the head of Westminster keeper Abigayle Kelley and into the net for the 1-0 lead at the 19:00 mark. Four minutes later, Westminster senior Tyra Kimbler sent a wicked shot past Teems to tie the match at 1-all.
Trinity did a great job of passing the ball, pressuring Westminster in its territory for several minutes. The pressure paid off as Lady Lions sophomore Destini De La Cruz hammered in a goal and Trinity regained the lead at 2-1 with 12:19 remaining in the half. Trinity scored again with 6:19 left as Kelley bobbled a Trinity shot and De La Cruz was right there to kick the rebound into the net for the 3-1 Lady Lions lead, which stayed that way at halftime.
“I have been working hard and it’s paid off for me. I thought their keeper was going to catch the ball and when she didn’t, I kept going and hit the ball in,” said De La Cruz. “You can’t assume the keeper will always catch the ball. You never know.”
Westminster started out strong in the second half, keeping the ball in Trinity territory at the start. Westminster’s Emily Rogers finally got a pass behind the Trinity defense and she dribbled downfield and passed it to Kimbler, who scored to cut the lead to 3-2 with 24:21 remaining.
Trinity’s Claire Mudge nearly gave the home team some breathing room. Kelley tried to meet the ball out of the Westminster goal area but she misplayed it, allowing Mudge to send a shot past her. Unfortunately for Trinity, the ball dribbled to the right of the net and out of bounds with 18:35 left.
The Lady Wildcats duo of Rogers and Kimbler struck again one minute later. Rogers sent a shot at Teems and it bounced off her as Kimbler was looking to score. Teems dove and fell on the ball before Kimbler kicked it, preserving the lead. Teems definitely took one for the team as she was hit while cradling the ball.
“I saw Kimbler coming and I just couldn’t let my team down, so I just dove for the ball. I laid my body on it and took the hit,” said Teems, a junior. “She kicked me in my nose, but it’s not broken so I’m okay. I am glad I was able to be clutch at that moment.”
Teems made another clutch save minutes later, and the Lady Lions played great defense to get the win and secure their trip to Macon next week.
“We’re taking steps in the process. Last year, we lost in this round and now we’ve made it to the Final Four,” said Trinity head coach Stephen Sylvia. “The girls played as a team and stuck to our game plan. I’m very proud of them.”
Westminster 4, Trinity 0 (boys): The Trinity Christian Lions traveled to Augusta to face the Westminster Wildcats in Class AAA state playoff soccer action Thursday evening, but in the end Westminster won 4-0, ending Trinity’s season.
The Lions trailed 1-0 at the half.