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Providence girls hold off Walker for state title

LILBURN - Rain and lightning forced the Providence Christian girls to delay their state soccer quest. But the weather couldn't wash away their championship dreams.

"I just built up the excitement," Sarah Jordan said. "We knew we weren't going to be denied."

No. 1-ranked Providence scored three quick goals - two by Jordan - early in the second half and held on to defeat No. 2 Walker 3-2 for the Class AA/A title Saturday at Berkmar.

"This feels so good," Stars coach Jonny Williamson said. "I'm so proud of these girls and way they've played all year."

It was Providence's second state championship - the other was in 1999 - and it doesn't look like it will be the last. The Stars graduate only two seniors.

"We're still very young," said Williamson, his postgame remarks interrupted by a celebratory icy shower.

Sarah Jordan, a junior, rode on the back of sophomore sister Julie, then brought the championship trophy around to all of her teammates to kiss as "We Are The Champions" blared over the PA.

"We all worked really hard for this," Sarah Jordan said.

Providence finished 21-1, the only loss coming to Holy Innocents' in a game that Jordan missed.

The goals were her 32nd and 33rd of the season and gave her 117 for a career that still has a season to go.

"She's a great player," Williamson said.

She is hardly a one-person team, though, and Providence needed everyone to contribute against Walker (17-4) in a game that was postponed from Friday night.

After a scoreless first half, Providence scored three times in a seven-minute stretch early in the second half, but the Stars had to hang on for dear life.

"I don't think we let up," Williamson said. "I just think Walker showed how good it is. They certainly didn't quit."

Amy Bylos scored following a corner kick to cut the Stars' lead to a goal with three minutes remaining. But Walker, which had nine shots in the second half, didn't get another scoring chance.

"I was so nervous," sophomore keeper Taylor Sorrells said. "They just kept coming back. That second goal was beautiful. I had no chance."

Jordan got a red card in the closing minute for kicking the ball away in a delaying move, but there wasn't enough time for Walker to take advantage.

"That killed me," said Jordan, who burst into tears. "But I knew there were only a few seconds left."

She had already made her mark in a positive way. Jordan put the Stars ahead for good 7:45 into the second half, booming in a low, left-footed kick after a pass from Mary Katherine Franklin.

Exactly two minutes later, it was 2-0. Tori Lopez's header on a cross from Jordan hit the crossbar, but it caromed out to Cassi Flowers. She didn't miss.

Then Jordan made it 3-0 in the 54th minute, scoring after a corner kick by sister Julie, a sophomore whose birthday was Friday.

Walker, which lost 4-1 to Providence on April 19, kept fighting though.

Anna Cole scored on an assist from Nicole Locandro with more than 22 minutes left in the game and the Wolverines kept firing away.

After having to make just one save in the first half, Sorrells made five in the second.

"She made some big, big saves," Williamson said.

Providence finished with 14 shots, while Walker had 15. Wolverines keeper Megan Maloney made five saves.

Going into the game, Williamson had said, "The key for us is to be confident without being cocky."

As the team huddled at midfield to celebrate with one loud shout of "CHAMPIONS!" it was obvious that the message had sunk in.

"We did what we knew we had to do," Williamson said.

The Stars girls soccer program has a second state championship and should be favored again next year. Franklin and Hayley Poy are the only players graduating.

"It's a little too early to think about that," the coach said of a repeat. "I want to enjoy this."