Knights advance to second round for first time

INDIAN SPRINGS – Westminster School at Oak Mountain’s girls soccer program took a momentous step forward with a 3-2 playoff win at traditional power Indian Springs School on Tuesday, May 2.

With the win, the Knights (13-6) advance past the first round of the Class 1A-3A state playoffs for the first time in the program’s six-year history.

Last year was the first time Westminster qualified for the playoffs, and its season was ended by Indian Springs.

“I’m very proud of the girls that have been here the whole time because they get to taste the success from their work,” third-year coach Patrick Fitzgerald said.

The game went back-and-forth and was full of emotion on the pitch and in the stands.

Though second-ranked Westminster mounted more threats than its hosts, Springs goalkeeper Elizabeth Hunt was usually up to the challenge, recording impressive saves to keep her team in the game.

ISS (14-6-2), ranked No. 4 in the class, took an early lead when Elisabeth Schwiebert found some space and then the back of the net about 10 minutes into the game.

Westminster began controlling the action shortly after the opening goal but failed to convert on a flurry of shots on goal.

With about 16 minutes remaining in the first half, Westminster’s Katie Hoaglund broke free from the Springs defense and scored from the middle of the field to tie the game at 1-1.

About 10 minutes later, Hoaglund dribbled through defenders and scored again to give the Knights the lead, 2-1.

Indian Springs tied the game again before halftime when Josephine Gray snuck one over the outstretched hands of the Westminster goalkeeper with about a minute and a half left until halftime.

Morgan White scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal about seven minutes into the second half.

Westminster held on thanks to Virginia Welch hustling back to disrupt a sure goal with the keeper out of the net, and also a Camryn Neal header to clear the ball on a free kick.

Fitzgerald said he thought his team’s commitment to conditioning made a difference late in the game.

“The girls work really, really hard on conditioning and have done it since the beginning of the season,” Fitzgerald said. “Both teams played outstanding. It was a battle.”

Westminster will host Montgomery Academy (12-3-5) for a second-round game at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 6.

For more photos, visit ShelbyCountyPhotos.com.