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LAURA FLORES STOOD ALONG THE SIDELINE AND STARED TOWARDS THE GAME CLOCK.
Wearing a black St. Pius X soccer long-sleeved shirt and rocking her SPX hat backwards, Flores counted down the seconds. With just a few seconds left, the second-year coach started to run onto the field. By the time the horn sounded, and the rest of her team rushed on in celebration, the coach had reached her goalie Sarah Woods.
Flores embraced Woods.They had just defeated St. Agnes Academy 2-1 in the TAPPS Division I State Semifinals to punch the program’s first-ever ticket to a State Championship match.
“When we first got together with this team, we understood that we had a really good squad,” Flores said. “We have been working hard. They put their hearts and souls into this.
“These kids mean a lotto me. They have changed my life.”
In the State Semifinals match it was junior Corrine Ward’s corner-kick goal–which she scored unassisted into the wind – that made the difference.
“We’ve come a long way,” Ward said. “Last year we did OK but we really wanted to improve. This year, we hit our goal to make it to the State Championship.”
Jackie Lesmeister added: “It was so exciting. We put a whole lot into this season and to see it all pay off feels great.”
Getting through a rigorous regular season schedule, then the playoffs is not easy.
But according to Ward, what held this team together through the ups and downs that naturally come with a season was their bond.
“We’re all best friends on and off the field, which makes it easier to play with each other,” she said. “Everyone on her contributed.”
St. Pius X went on to fall short of winning the TAPPS Division I State Championship, falling to John Paul II, 2-0.
Despite falling short of their goal, Flores said that bond that had been there all year long never wavered and will carry them into 2023.
“This was a great season for them,” Flores said. “You can see, even just after we lost in the State Championship, you can see the energy. You can see they’re so together. I’m so proud of every single one of these kids. They show up to practice everyday, they put in the hard work. This is what every soccer team wants, an opportunity to play at State.
“They came here. They showed up andI couldn’t be prouder of them.”