Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Country Day Wins Third Title in Row; Harding Heads in Winner for 1A State Champions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Country Day Wins Third Title in Row; Harding Heads in Winner for 1A State Champions

Article excerpt

Byline: Clayton Freeman

MELBOURNE | For Kay Kay Harding, Thursday's Class 1A girls soccer championship was an intense struggle, a fascinating tactical puzzle and an inspiring comeback story.

And it all came down to one moment for Harding, who struck the 77th-minute game-winner that led St. Johns Country Day to a 1-0 victory over Lakeland Christian for the school's third consecutive FHSAA title.

The junior, who missed the 2013 tournament because of a torn ACL, stretched to head the winning goal from three yards out after a free kick from Megan Rogers caromed off the goal post Thursday at Eastern Florida State College.

"This year, coming back and winning it was just an amazing thing," Harding said.

The Spartans had crushed their previous tournament opponents by a total of 30-0, but the Vikings (28-1-0) gave them their stiffest challenge of the season.

The powers of the class previously faced off in the semifinals in both 2012 and 2013, with the Spartans coming out on top each time - 6-2 in 2012 and 1-0 last year.

This time, with the trophy on the line, the Vikings came out with a strategy to frustrate the St. Johns Country Day midfield.

"It was a great game plan by them," Spartans coach Mike Pickett said. "They disrupted us in the first half. The last eight minutes of the half, we started piecing together some passes and movement off the ball. And in the entire second half, we were fantastic."

The Spartans started the match red-hot, bombarding Lakeland Christian goalkeeper Lydia Cagle with shots, and finished the first half in similar fashion. In between, they had to fight hard for the first time in the postseason.

With Lakeland Christian sophomore Bri Folds dictating the Vikings' counterattacks, Spartans keeper Kendall Perkins was unusually busy, and she lunged across her goal to deny Folds with a superb 15th-minute save. …

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