Stratford head coach James Jordan admitted that he has thought about his young team making it to GISA Class AAA championship game.
But then he is quick to add that most of those thoughts have taken place while he was dreaming. Jordan doesn’t have to dream about it anymore. Kendall Cowart, one of only two seniors on the Stratford roster, scored a goal in the 30th minute and a stout defense did the rest as Stratford won a 1-0 game over Mount de Sales on Thursday to advance to the championship game for the first time since 2006.
“Scoring first was huge for us,” Jordan said. “When we have scored first against them, we have beat able to beat them, and when they score first they beat us. We worked the ball out wide, and Haley Tidwell pulled it back to Kendall, and she just one-timed it into the far right corner. It was just one of those shots that worked out perfectly, and there wasn’t anything their keeper could do about it.
We expected a physical game from them. That’s really the way all of our games are with them. A rivalry in a semifinal game is always going to be physical, and that’s exactly what we got.”
Cowart who played on Stratford’s last state winning team as an eight-grader, was excited about the goal and being back in the state championship game. Stratford will play Westminster at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
“I’ve only scored five or six goals this year,” Cowart said. “I’m more pf a distributor and help others score. This is just amazing. I didn’t hesitate on the shot and just one-touched it, and thankfully it went in. I saw it curve, and it had backspin on it, just one of those weird shots that you hope goes in. It’s just a great feeling to be a senior and get back to the championship game. Saturday could be my last soccer game, and we all want to end this season on a good note.”
Mount de Sales ends its season at 15-5, while Stratford improves to 13-6-1.
“I thought we left it on the field,” Mount de Sales head coach Iain Jones said, “and that’s about all you can ask for a team. We had some good chances to score in the second half, and I thought there were times when we would go for five- or 10-minute stretches and we would put some good stuff together. Stratford’s defense did a good job of controlling our opportunities. One goal decided the game, and they got that goal so congratulations to them.”