MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — St. George's got two second-half goals from Olivia Tanzer and defeated Chattanooga Christian 2-0 in the TSSAA Division II-A girls' state soccer final Friday at the Siegel Soccer Complex.
The Gryphons had one corner kick in the first half, but the first two of their four after halftime proved to be fruitful.
The first was by Emma Bennett in the 44th minute, and it looked as though CCS keeper Lucy Sandhoff had caught Tanzer's shot from in front of the goal. However, the ball rolled around in Sandhoff's arms and ultimately spun out and into the goal.
"Anything she gives me is great," CCS coach Cal Sneller said of Sandhoff, who missed six weeks with a concussion. "She's going to give it all out."
The next corner kick came seven minutes later also was off the foot of Bennett and couldn't have been placed much better. Tanzer's header came from point-blank range.
"We're a possession team," St. George's coach Tony Whicker said. "The first half we possessed it some, but we didn't possess it enough. We stressed at halftime the importance of getting possession. Then everything we were able to do worked off that.
"Defensively we pretty much kept doing what we were doing. We made a couple of substitutions but didn't change much. I felt like what we were doing was working pretty well."
The elements may have been a contributing factor, too. The 15-20-mph winds blowing from end to end were at the Gryphons' backs in the second half.
"I felt pretty good at halftime, but we knew they were a strong team," Whicker said. "We kind of got stuck by the wind in the first half. But I knew in the second half they were going to have it like we did in the first half."
The Lady Chargers (21-2-2) indeed didn't have much in the way of good scoring opportunities in the second half, but they hadn't been in the role of having to play catch-up often, either.
"The girls come out so fast and so hard," Sneller said. "Typically they get up and then play harder."
The title was the fourth for St. George's (15-6-1), which had earned its 11th consecutive state-tournament berth. The Gryphons' last championship was in 2013.
The Lady Chargers won a state title in their first appearance in 1997 but have been chasing another since. This was their 17th time to qualify for a state tournament — their seventh in succession. It was the sixth berth in a final for both programs.
Sneller noted that his team got standout play from Olivia Hoffman, Kate Dirkse, Addie Henry and Katie Davick. Hoffman is a senior. The others have another year remaining.
"They have a great attitude," Sneller said of his players. "They're always wanting to do better. They're never content. They always want to do a little bit more. I've got to go back and figure out what we can do better.
"They can't work any more than they have. The ball just bounces some strange ways sometimes."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.