Commentary

Parkview seniors go out as champs

Updated: May 12, 2009, 11:03 AM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPNRISE.com

Sometimes it takes a setback to move a team forward.

Parkview High School (Lilburn, Ga.) girls' soccer coach Judson Hamby believes that was the case this season, as the Panthers saw the end of their two-year undefeated streak yet ended the campaign with their third straight state title.

A 2-0 loss to Wando (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) ended Parkview's undefeated run at 43 matches. Hamby said that was the turning point. "You gotta have things that humble you. After that, we got a lot sharper in practice. Reality was, we needed that."

Following that loss, Parkview reeled off 10 straight wins, including a 2-1 shootout victory over Harrison (Kennesaw, Ga.) on Friday in the Class AAAAA state final.

Parkview, at No. 15, was the highest-ranked ESPN RISE FAB 50 girls' soccer team to close out play this past weekend as state champions were crowned in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and parts of South Carolina.

Here are some of the weekend's state final highlights:

-- St. Pius (Atlanta) capped a perfect girls' soccer season with a 4-0 win over North Hall (Gainesville, Ga.) in the Class AAA state final.

-- A pair of boys' soccer teams' bids for perfection ended with shootout losses in the finals. Conway (Ark.) had its 43-match win streak halted with a 2-1 shootout loss to Catholic (Little Rock, Ark.) in the state's Class 7A final. McIntosh (Peachtree City, Ga.) fell to Marist (Atlanta) on penalty kicks in the Georgia Class AAAA final. McIntosh entered the match 22-0-0.

-- The girls' soccer team at Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.) put the finishing touches on the school's best-ever showing with a 4-0 victory over McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Ala.) in the state's 6A final. Spain Park ended the season 23-1-3. It avenged its only loss of the season to Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.) by defeating the rival three other times, including a 4-1 decision in the second round of the state playoffs.

-- The Marist (Atlanta) girls' soccer team entered the season in the FAB 50 Top 10 and delivered with a second straight state title, this one a 4-3 victory over Whitewater (Fayetteville, Ga.) in the Class AAAA final. Marist finished 21-1-0; its lone loss was to undefeated Class AAA champ St. Pius.

-- In South Carolina, Pinewood Prep (Summerville, S.C.) sweep the South Carolina Independent Schools Association 3A crowns. For the boys, it marked the fifth straight state title.

-- The surprise of the spring championship run this past weekend was Fairhope (Ala.) in the Alabama 6A final. Chad Dolan's overtime goal gave Fairhope a 1-0 victory over favored Mountain Brook (Ala.), marking the first time a Mobile-area public school has won any state title. Fairhope looked like a long-shot at best, given a midseason 6-0 thrashing by eventual 5A state champ and overall state No. 1 John Carroll (Birmingham, Ala.). However, Fairhope closed out the season on a 14-match undefeated streak.

For the Parkview girls' team, Friday's state crown simply reinforced the program's dynasty status in Georgia. Parkview has won five of the past seven large-school state titles.

This year's team featured nine seniors, four of whom have committed to play college soccer. However, the real strength might have been a pair of juniors -- forward Kim Spence and midfielder Maureen Buff. Spence, an Auburn commit, led the team with 19 goals. Buff, who has committed to South Carolina, converted the deciding penalty kick in the state final victory over Harrison.

The college-bound seniors include: forwards Taylor Jackson (14 goals, 12 assists; Lander University) and Kristina Pascutti (15 goals, 14 assists; Armstrong Atlantic), and midfielders Megan Geiger (Georgia State) and Morgan Mitchell (Armstrong Atlantic).

"We had a lot of seniors, a lot of returning players," Hamby said. "The seniors had to lead by example -- they have set the standard."

This senior class leaves Parkview with a four-year record of 82-6-1, 65-2-1 over the past three seasons.

Sheldon Shealer covers youth soccer for ESPNRISE.com. He can be reached at Sheldon.Shealer@espn.com.