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The Archbishop McCarthy girls’ soccer team is unable to repeat last year’s finish

Andre C. Fernandez
·2 min read

Being a defending state champion for the first time this season, Archbishop McCarthy learned how much the degree of difficulty increased every match.

“We learned that every game you’re going to get their best game,” McCarthy coach Mike Sica said. “There were no easy games the entire year and it was tough.”

Arguably no team had payback more on their minds than Ponte Vedra — the team the Mavericks beat a year ago to secure that first state championship.

The Sharks cashed in on a goal in each half and blanked Archbishop McCarthy 2-0 in the Class 5A final on Friday evening at Spec Martin Stadium.

McCarthy (18-5-1) made its way back to state for the third consecutive season despite graduating 10 seniors including five starters from last year’s squad, which won the school’s first state title in the sport.

The Mavericks also lost four starters to injuries during the season.

“We still did a lot [to get here], but it’s just hard to get to three state finals in a row,” Sica said. “We’ll learn from it.”

Ponte Vedra (14-3-5) won its third state title all-time and first since 2012.

The combo of senior Ella Shapiro and Junior Tamlyn Parkes accounted for both Ponte Vedra goals.

In the 21st minute, Shapiro lobbed a perfect ball over 20 yards and two McCarthy defenders’ heads to hit Parkes in stride allowing her to fire her shot past Mavericks sophomore goalkeeper Paloma Pena.

The Sharks added another with 34:37 left in the second when they got up close to McCarthy’s goal and Shapiro found Parkes again on a cross. This time, Pena appeared to smother it, but the ball had plenty of spin and got through her legs and across the goal line.

Ponte Vedra effectively shut down McCarthy’s attack, limiting them to six shots on goal overall and containing top scorers Sophia Goetz and Lili Katz, who had combined for 20 goals this season.

“They’re extremely well behind the ball and opportunistic once they get their chances,” Sica said. “Once they got the lead they played the game they wanted to play and they’re athletic everywhere. We put ourselves behind the eight ball by giving up that early.”