But, the Golden Lions were just too strong, downing the War Eagles 2-0 in the Class AAA championship at Kennesaw State’s Fifth Third Stadium.
Tyler Alexander and JD Manzo both scored goals for St. Pius, 19-0-2, which did not surrender a goal the entire postseason.
“The guys worked so hard for an undefeated season,” St. Pius soccer coach David O’Shea said. “There is a lot of hard work that goes into an undefeated season and those boys worked hard for it and deserve it.”
For much of the contest, the War Eagles, 13-7-1, were in a defensive position, focused on protecting goalkeeper Matthew Reynolds. But with 24:46 left in the first half, Alexander zipped a shot out of the reach of Reynolds for a 1-0 score.
“The goal was to go up as early as we possibly could because then that would allow us to dominate the game,” O’Shea said. “They sat in and defended a little bit so we were hoping that if we got a goal early it would force them to come out a little bit which allowed us to play and I think that worked.”
Almost six minutes later, the Golden Lions nearly doubled their margin, but Bobby Grunow’s header struck the post and landed in the hands of Reynolds before anyone else could take a shot. Just seconds before the break, Alexander appeared to find the back of the net again, but his goal was negated due to an offsides penalty.
In the second half, Woodward continued to have trouble getting any real pressure on goalkeeper Ryan Beck.
“That is the 16th shut out that Ryan has had all season and he just leads the backline,” O’Shea said. “They are comfortable on the backline because they’ve got confidence in him. The central defenders Adam Kinsel and Bobby Grunow have been solid too.”
Then with 23 minutes left, St. Pius increased its lead when Manzo redirected a header past Reynolds for a 2-0 margin.
The Golden Lions remained aggressive the rest of the way and hit the crossbar a few more times before securing their second state title in the past three seasons.