published Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Baylor wins state soccer title again

St. Agnes soccer tried to smile during their postgame team picture.

The Baylor girls were all smiles for their official photo-shoot after beating the Stars 2-0 in the Division II-AA state championship match Saturday night at Girls Preparatory School.

The Lady Red Raiders played an aggressive style of offense with Kelly Pannell scoring in the first half and Peyton Thomas adding a goal in the second half.

The Baylor defense sparkled as well -- with Analiese Smith in goal -- to help claim coach Jimmy Weekley's second straight girls' state championship and eighth overall.

"To win back to back is tough, and I'm extremely proud of the girls," Weekley said. "Basically, we finished our chances. We had a handful of good ones and we finished two of them."

St. Agnes (17-2-1) and Baylor (18-1) have met in the last three championship games. The Stars smiled in 2009, but the Lady Raiders made them frown at the end of the last two seasons, including a 1-0 victory last year.

"Baylor is a good team, always has been, and probably will be for a long time to come," St. Agnes coach Bobby Ireland said. "I'm very proud to come back to finals three years in a row and we've got one of them."

But they didn't get this one.

Pannell struck a shot from about 25 yards out to the center of the goal -- one that normally has long odds to go in -- but Stars defender Melissa Capocaccia redirected the shot into her own goal during the 14th minute.

"I just remember shooting off my left foot and it hit off one of their players' side," Pannell said. "I was so excited I barely remember what I did."

Thomas is fuzzy about her goal, too, but for a different reason. She lost a contact early in the second half and played the rest of the game with good vision in one eye and a blurry vision in the other.

She scored in the 53rd minute. The Lady Raiders took a corner kick. The rebound was deflected out to Thomas, who took a touch to the right then blasted a shot to the left of Stars keeper Sandra Paris for the decisive 2-0 lead.

"I just hit it where I thought the goalie wouldn't be," Thomas said. "Considering that we only beat them by one last year, it felt amazing scoring that goal and getting us up by two. I think it had a big impact."

The Stars did not go gently into the night. They pressured Baylor's defense and had several scoring opportunities stifled, especially in the final 10 minutes when Baylor packed its defense around its goal.

"It seemed like the clock was running so slow," Weekley said. "I was afraid they'd get one [goal] and then get some momentum."

The Stars did not.

The Lady Raiders won, and Thomas played lead vocals in a high-pitch a cappella version of "We are the Champions."

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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