Baylor School's Gracey Prater (4) and Father Ryan's Anne Claire Ballinger battle for possession of the ball during the Division II AA state semifinal game held at Girls Preparatory School early Friday afternoon. Father Ryan won over Baylor with a final score of 1-0.Photo by Dan Henry.
Division II-AA state semifinals
FATHER RYAN 1, BAYLOR 0
Halftime score: 0-0. Goal: Kalyn Pruett. Assist: Sarah Bossung. Shots on goal: Father Ryan, 11-3. Saves: Analiese Smith 10 (B); Mary Lauren Moss 3 (FR). Records: Father Ryan 8-5-5; Baylor 11-4-3.
The Father Ryan soccer team has continued to plug away, regardless of the circumstances, during its past few games. Along the way, the Lady Irish even taught coach Robin Dieterich a thing or two about persevering and not giving up.
Against Baylor in the Division II-AA state semifinals Friday, their perseverance proved evident in one of the game's most crucial moments.
Senior Kalyn Pruett headed in a goal in the 73rd minute, and Father Ryan defeated the two-time defending state champion Lady Red Raiders 1-0 to advance to today's title match at 6:30 at GPS.
A tie late in the season caused the Lady Irish (8-5-5) to have to travel to state top-ranked St. Agnes in the quarterfinals, but they pulled out an upset victory. The semifinals proved another tough task, but as in 2008 Father Ryan defeated the Lady Red Raiders in the final four.
"One thing I've learned this year is we have to keep fighting and things will fall our way," Dieterich said. "I'm stewing over on the sideline, and they just keep playing. That's all they've wanted to do is keep playing."
On the decisive play, sophomore defender Sarah Bossung made a run down the left wing. An attempt to clear the ball by a Baylor defender glanced off Bossung, who kept running. She crossed the ball into Pruett, whose goal provided the difference.
Baylor (11-4-3) had a prime opportunity earlier in the second half. A corner kick was bouncing around the box. Nikki Johnston got the ball on her foot and fired a shot that a Father Ryan player saved after keeper Mary Lauren Moss initially deflected the attempt.
"You have to get a bounce," Baylor coach Jimmy Weekley said. "We couldn't get a clean look or a bounce. I'm real proud of the girls; it was a hard season."
Baylor graduated six seniors to NCAA Division I colleges off last season's team that finished the year ranked third nationally. A seventh went on to play NCAA Division III basketball. On top of defections due to graduation, the team battled injuries all season long -- most recently a dislocated knee for forward Maggie Crumbliss.
"It's our team goal to make the final four and see what happens," Weekley said. "I'm very proud of the team; they never let injuries be an excuse."