Division II-AA state semifinal
GPS 4, HARPETH HALL 0
Halftime score: GPS, 1-0. Goals: Ellie Haskins 2, Izzy Phillips 2. Assists: Josie Love Roebuch, Akia Harris. Shots: GPS 10-1. Saves: Ashley Williams 7 (HH); Savannah Williams 1 (GPS). Records: GPS 14-1-2; Harpeth Hall 10-4-7.
GPS was pushing the pace early in Friday's Division II-AA girls' soccer semifinal matchup against Harpeth Hall, attacking the Honeybears from the beginning of the Bruisers' 4-0 victory.
"I wanted to set the pace," GPS coach Leland Strang said. "I wanted them to be on their heels responding to us. This is a pretty young team, and there's an enthusiasm that they're just hungry for the goal.
"So that was the game plan. I wanted to come out setting the pace, showing how much this group wants it."
Despite the furious attack by GPS, Harpeth Hall's defense did just enough to keep the match scoreless until sophomore forward Ellie Haskins scored with 18 minutes remaining in the first half.
"Josie Love Roebuch kicked a great ball, and I was just there to get it in," Haskins said. "I couldn't have done it without my team. It was a real team effort."
The Bruisers' attacking style began to pay off even more in the second half with Haskins adding another goal and junior Izzy Phillips netting two unassisted scores to put the match out of reach.
"Their defense was breaking down a little bit and it was easier for us to get around them," Phillips said. "We figured out that if we had so much pressure on them, they couldn't retaliate as much."
Sophomore goalkeeper Savannah Williams and the GPS defense survived an inspired Harpeth Hall attack late to preserve the shutout and carry momentum into today's state final against Father Ryan, which edged Baylor in Friday's early semifinal.
With one game remaining, Strang feels her team is ready to try to make history.
"No GPS team has ever played a state final on this field," she said. "They're honored and ready to do what it takes to be the first [GPS} team ever to win state on this field. I believe in us; I believe we can do it.
"I think they will come ready. I think they're ready to dance."
Despite the tough loss, Harpeth Hall coach Jennifer Evans was proud of her team's effort.
"I'm extremely proud of our girls," she said. "We played hard but have a tough time on this field particularly. But it's been an incredible year for us to make it to the semifinals in state, which our school has never done. So for us it's a big win, even though we didn't win today."
Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...