Knight Time: Westminster OM takes girls soccer state title

Published 6:06 pm Saturday, May 13, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HUNTSVILLE – The 2023 1A-3A state title game was 366 days in the making for the Westminster at Oak Mountain Knights, and it’s all because they worked to ensure last year’s Final Four heartbreak didn’t happen again.

“When you have goals, things you want to achieve, write it down,” Westminster OM coach Joseph Randal said after the game. “Write it down. Write it down. As soon as we lost to Trinity last season, I wrote down, ‘We will win State this year,’ and put forth the effort to get here. And it came true.”

The Knights finished the job in 2023 and claimed their second state title in program history with a 3-0 win over the St. James Trojans on Saturday, May 13 at John Hunt Park.

After a breakneck start to Friday’s semifinal match against Susan Moore with three goals in the first ten minutes, the Knights kept the trend going on Saturday.

First Team All-Metro selection Vale Richie netted the Knights’ opening goal just 34 seconds into the contest from an assist by Jenny Grant.

Then, just over a minute later, LC Smith’s shot off Emily White’s corner found the back of the net, and with less than two minutes on the clock, the Knights led 2-0.

According to coach Randal, those fast starts were all part of the plan for Westminster OM.

“It’s been part of this strategy since earlier this season,” coach Randal said. “We played an opponent that we battled last season. And the important thing that coach said that stuck with me was, ‘You beat my team in the first 15 minutes.’ And that stuck with me the rest of the season.

“So, I hate to be that kind of a coach, but sometimes you just gotta go for it early.”

Westminster OM cruised from there, but they still kept up the pressure in the first half. They outshot the Trojans 11-5 in the period.

On defense, Lailie Parvin saved all four of the shots she faced on goal during the first half.

The second half saw even more action on the goal thanks to 14 shots from the Knights.

The score stayed at 2-0 until the 56th minute when Richie’s run turned into a close shot and her second goal of the day.

Westminster OM saw out the final 20 minutes for the shutout, and the celebration began as soon as the final whistle blew on the Knights’ 3-0 win.

The team ran onto the field to celebrate and exchanged hugs before the awards ceremony, and then they ran over to the travelling fans with the state championship trophy.

Richie’s two goals earned her state championship MVP honors.

White assisted on both of Richie’s goals and took eight shots herself. Richie and Smith each had five shots as they kept the pressure on the Trojans’ backline all afternoon.

Parvin didn’t face a shot on goal during the entire second half, but she earned another clean sheet.

Parvin and the Knights’ defense never surrendered a goal through the entire run to the title, with the Knights outscoring their playoff opponents 17-0.

After the game, the Knights dumped a cooler on coach Randal before he spoke about his gratitude for his team’s journey.

“Three years with this team, it’s a dream come true,” coach Randal said. “It’s a dream come true. Every year we’ve done nothing but elevate. We hope we continue to do so.”