published Friday, May 25th, 2012

Baylor rewarded with state soccer title

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    Baylor's Ramsey Seagle, No. 10, tries for a shot on goal while being pressured by Father Ryan's John Bakewell, no. 4, during Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Thursday, May 24, 2012.
    Photo by Jake Daniels.
    enlarge photo

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- In the moments immediately following Baylor's soccer match against Father Ryan on Thursday, sophomore defender Rafael Gaglianone knelt down at midfield to say a little prayer. Goalkeeper Henrique Ribeiro came over and joined him, and after they were finished, Gaglianone put a finger to the sky and went to celebrate with his teammates.

It was a fitting finish.

Gaglianone scored the goal as the Red Raiders claimed their fourth state championship and first since 2007 with a 1-0 victory at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex.

That gave Chattanooga a boys' state soccer title for the third straight season, following Boyd-Buchanan in 2010 and Chattanooga Christian last season in A/AA.

The Baylor girls' soccer team won last fall.

The defensive quartet of Gaglianone, Jeffrey Shibata, Will Hitchcock and Rodrigo Alonso joined Ribeiro in shutting down a second straight potent attack in the state tournament.

"Rodrigo really stood out. When things broke down in back, he was always there to get a ball cleared," Baylor coach Curtis Blair said. "Tonight's all about the team. It was a team effort, but to not give up any goals in two games in the state tournament is unbelievable."

Junior Ramsey Seagle served the corner kick that bounced around in the box before being netted by Gaglianone.

"After all the hard work the whole team put it, it's such an amazing feeling for this to happen," Seagle said. "We felt this was coming. We never gave up and pulled things off at the end."

As injuries mounted for the Red Raiders throughout the season, sometimes with as many as five players out, Blair found himself digging deep into his rotations to get a team on the field that could compete. As the team got healthier, the play improved and the Raiders got on a winning run.

"I can only coach for the opportunity to be here," Blair said. "I told the guys all week long that while we were here, let's go ahead and go for a title."

Said Father Ryan coach Robin Dieterich: "We gave them the early goal, but we kept our composure throughout the match and continued to go at them.

"It just wasn't the luck of the Irish like it was last night."

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