Holy Trinity girls overcome adversity to reach soccer regional semifinals


The Holy Trinity girls soccer team won its fourth consecutive district championship earlier this month and will play in the Class 1A regional semifinals tonight at Lakeland Christian.

VIERA VOICE Courtesy Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

Determination can carry a team a long way.

Such has been the case for the Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy girls soccer team this season.

The Tigers (8-6-1) have endured setback after setback, and yet Tuesday afternoon, they were boarding a bus for Lakeland for a Class 1A regional semifinal against their old nemesis, Lakeland Christian (18-2-1).

“I think this year, everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong,” senior goalkeeper Baylee Whitley said. “We’ve got girls in car accidents. We’ve got broken legs. We’ve got a new injury showing up every day.

“We’re extremely proud that, despite all of these obstacles …

“We’ve been rolling with the punches,” freshman Tara Carroll said.

Led by senior co-captains Whitley, Emily Morgan, Siobhan Brennan and Alex Fuentes, the Tigers have been able to overcome all of the adversity they have faced through their talent and their will to give their seniors a proper sendoff.

“I think it’s our determination,” Whitley said “I’ve played soccer for 15 years and it’s the last time I’ll ever play. I’ve voiced that to the younger players. I’ve said, ‘This is it for us.’”

The ultimate payoff – to date -- came with winning a fourth consecutive district championship following a 1-0 victory against a St. Edward’s team that had lost only once all season and beaten Holy Trinity by scores of 2-1 and 6-0 earlier in the year.

Not only did the Tigers get Kailey Dunne back from injury in that district game, they were able to carry a serious and determined attitude while also not putting too much pressure on themselves.

“We stepped up,” Carroll said. “It was everybody’s best game of the season.”

With the Holy Trinity defense shutting down St. Edward’s, it was Carroll who delivered the game-winning goal on a breakaway following a pass from Dunne.

“The girl was on me, there was another one coming up and I just shot it I had enough force (on the shot) that the goalie caught it, but she lost it,” Carroll said.

Winning a fourth straight district title was special enough. Doing it after everything they had gone through, well, that just put an even bigger smile on their faces.

“We all wanted districts so bad because we wanted that four-year thing and (we wanted to prove) everyone wrong because we lost to St. Ed’s twice leading up to the district final,” Whitley said. “Being able to give them their second loss of the season was pretty cool.”

The win put the Tigers into the Class 1A regional quarterfinals, where they shut out Santa Fe Catholic 6-0 behind four goals from senior Emily Morgan and one each from Lauren Gayles and Piper McHenry.

That put the Tigers into the regional semifinals against Lakeland Christian, the team that has knocked Holy Trinity out of the playoffs the past two years.

Lakeland Christian is led by senior Bri Folds, who is committed to Auburn.

“She’s an incredible player,” Whitley said. “It’s going to be a tough match. But if we go in with the same motivation we had for the district final, I would be extremely happy, regardless of the outcome.”