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‘We lost by one goal’

Archbishop McCarthy's unbeaten season ends at state championship

Archbishop McCarthy High forward Nadia Colon executes a corner kick during the Class 4A state championship soccer final in DeLand, which McCarthy lost 0-1 to another nationally ranked team, Montverde Academy.

Photographer: COURTESY

Archbishop McCarthy High forward Nadia Colon executes a corner kick during the Class 4A state championship soccer final in DeLand, which McCarthy lost 0-1 to another nationally ranked team, Montverde Academy.

MIAMI | Archbishop McCarthy High had such a great season that it took an unbeaten team with a player who will play in the FIFA World Cup to end the Mavericks’ unbeaten run.

Montverde junior Jody Brown scored in the 60th minute to help the Eagles beat McCarthy 1-0 in the Class 4A FHSAA girls soccer final, held Feb. 22 at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand.

Brown, who will play for the Jamaica national team in the FIFA World Cup and was named to CONCACAF’s Top XI of the week in mid-January, scored on the one mistake the Mavericks made. McCarthy coach Mike Sica said that Mavericks center defender Kelly Hastings mishit an attempt to clear the ball. The ball went right to Isabella Flanigan, who stopped the ball with her stomach and kicked to Brown. Hastings nearly made a diving block of Brown’s goal, missing by inches.

Sica said the Mavericks made Brown a focal point of their defense. After all, Brown had three hat tricks this year among her 32 goals, including one in the playoffs against Melbourne.

“You have to do your best to prevent anything going over the top,” he said. “Nobody at our level is catching up to her in a footrace. Maybe in the summer when she plays the world’s best teams, but not at the FHSAA level. She was our No. 1 target, but there were a couple others we’d scouted, and they were as dangerous as her.”

Sica said that freshman Isabella Quintero had her best game of the year against the Eagles. Quintero had four saves.

“She made a couple saves early,” Sica said. “She was fearless, coming out strong to block some shots. She made some diving saves.”

Junior Cassandra Lawson, University of North Florida commitment Nadia Colon and Sophia Goetz each had shots on goal.

Archbishop McCarthy's Lady Mavericks battle Montverde Academy players during the Class 4A state championship final Feb. 22 in DeLand. Both Montverde (#2) and McCarthy (#6) were nationally ranked and undefeated teams.

Photographer: COURTESY

Archbishop McCarthy's Lady Mavericks battle Montverde Academy players during the Class 4A state championship final Feb. 22 in DeLand. Both Montverde (#2) and McCarthy (#6) were nationally ranked and undefeated teams.

Sica said the Mavericks tried to counter Montverde by doing what they’ve done all year — being aggressive and pressuring the Eagles’ defense. He was concerned about the 1 p.m. start and the match’s heat. He said that most of Montverde’s foes typically played back, allowing the Eagles to get into their rhythm. Archbishop McCarthy wanted to disrupt that.

“If we were to play them again tomorrow, we’d do the same thing,” Sica said. “We’re a high-pressing team, playing physical. That’s what got us to 25-0. I didn’t feel comfortable changing the way we play.”

 

HIGH EXPECTATIONS

Archbishop McCarthy returned most of its players from a state semifinal team, which led to high expectations. Sica said the expectations gave the Mavericks chances to play under pressure — their Achilles’ heel last season.

MaxPreps’ national rankings were only happy to pile on the pressure, keeping the Mavericks in the top 10 of their national rankings most of the year. They finished No. 6.

“We started off undefeated,” Sica said. “After 5-6-7 games, MaxPreps started putting polls out and you’re talking about it, there’s pressure the whole year. We were able to deal with pressure all year.”

Montverde provided another chance for the Mavericks to test their mettle, and McCarthy delivered. McCarthy went 2-0 at Montverde’s Women’s Invitational Soccer Tournament, beating Class 1A defending state champion St. John’s Country Day and Class 2A playoff team Immaculata-La Salle.

“Just prior to that tournament, we had defeated (Class 2A finalist) Cardinal Gibbons and St. Thomas Aquinas,” Sica said. “Beating defending state champion St. John’s County Day 3-0, we knew we were for real. We knew we could possibly be there at the end.”

Freshman Sophia Goetz led the Mavericks with 15 goals and seven assists, while Sofia Mallardi had 14 goals and 11 assists. Adriana Duque also had 14 goals.

Archbishop McCarthy forward and team captain, Sofia Mallardi (6), tries to outrun a Montverde player during the Class 4A state championship game Feb. 22. Mallardi had 14 goals and 11 assists on the season.

Photographer: COURTESY

Archbishop McCarthy forward and team captain, Sofia Mallardi (6), tries to outrun a Montverde player during the Class 4A state championship game Feb. 22. Mallardi had 14 goals and 11 assists on the season.

Sica said the Mavericks’ depth also carried them. UCF commitment Jordyn Pitter and Liliana Katz each had nine goals. “They’d be starters on most teams,” Sica said.

But he also credited their defenders with their success. Hastings, Brown University signee Kimberly Cover, Colon, Jessica Gonzalez and Shannon Scott played stout defense that posted 18 shutouts.

They helped freshman Quintero shine in goal. But Sica said a few of them also pressured teams up front.

“Toward the end, we played (Colon) toward the back because she’s a good defender,” Sica said. “But she has 9-10 goals. Both of our outside backs (Colon and Gonzalez) were offensive-minded.”

 

CHARACTER-BUILDERS

One may not think that a 25-1 team would face much adversity, but one big bout struck early when Mallardi’s father died a month before the season started.

“She fought through the whole season, and incredibly she was our leading scorer,” Sica said. “She had the most points. To do that after that tragedy is remarkable.”

Colon also battled adversity. She played the entire postseason with mononucleosis, something that wasn’t diagnosed until before the state final.

Archbishop McCarthy players, including forward Jordyn Pitter (18), battle in front of the Montverde goal during the state championship final. Pitter, who has committed to playing soccer at the University of Central Florida, had nine goals on the season.

Photographer: COURTESY

Archbishop McCarthy players, including forward Jordyn Pitter (18), battle in front of the Montverde goal during the state championship final. Pitter, who has committed to playing soccer at the University of Central Florida, had nine goals on the season.

In addition to soccer, the Mavericks also contribute with community service. McCarthy hosts a summer soccer camp, and for the last 5 or 6 years has combined it with a canned food drive for the Pantry of Broward. The Mavericks encourage campers to bring in food, and the players join in. Sica said the team again reached its goal of collecting 1,000 pounds of food.

The service continues every Thanksgiving, when the team gives food to LifeNet4Families to feed the homeless and needy, something Sica said the Mavericks have done for 8 or 9 years. The team also for the last 10 years has raised at least $20,000 for the Sarcoma Foundation.

“It’s more than just soccer. I tell the parents when they first come here, ‘If soccer is all you’re here for, and state titles are all that matters, you’re on the wrong team,” he said. “It’s about learning values, overcoming adversity and knowing what others around the world are going through.”

Archbishop McCarthy broke several streaks this year. The Mavericks won their first district title in nine years and kept St. Thomas Aquinas from their first title in 33 years.

Next year, the team will lose a couple midfielders, two defenders and one forward. But the Mavericks still look to make that last step.

“Five hundred teams in the state would’ve loved to have our season, but we lost by one goal,” Sica said. “We’ll still return a very strong team. Hopefully the younger girls will fill the roles. That’s the nature of this team.”

IN OTHER NEWS

Archbishop McCarthy's winter sports teams once again earned Academic Team Champion honors for the 6A classification from the Florida High School Athletic Association. The overall team grade point averages and rankings were:

  • Men’s Basketball: 3.56; first place
  • Women’s Basketball: 3.8; first place
  • Men’s Soccer: 3.8; first place
  • Women’s soccer: 3.89; first place
  • Women’s weight lifting: 3.79; second place
  • Competition Cheerleading: 3.69; first place
  • Wrestling: 3.42; third place

Archbishop McCarthy High's girls soccer team pose with their coaches and state championship runner-up trophy after battling Montverde to a 0-1 score in the Feb. 22 final.

Photographer: COURTESY

Archbishop McCarthy High's girls soccer team pose with their coaches and state championship runner-up trophy after battling Montverde to a 0-1 score in the Feb. 22 final.

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