Courtney Baines’ team wasn’t supposed to beat St. Thomas Aquinas in the state tournament, but the coach told the players to just believe, and they did.
No, Baines wasn’t the coach. That was Fidgi Haig, and the team was the 2002 Satellite Scorpions in the state final against the Raiders, Baines a senior. Fourteen years later — now the married Courtney Baines Lundy — she stood on the sidelines coaching the defending Class 4A champion Viera Hawks to a 1-0 win over the modern version of Aquinas, No. 1 in the USA Today Super 25 and 20-0-1 entering the game.
“We weren’t supposed to beat them those years ago either,” Lundy said after the state semifinal at Melbourne High. “I kept thinking about that throughout the game.”
And she kept thinking about Haig, who died a year ago, a man whose influence permeated every corner of the Brevard soccer community and whose sudden death rocked it to its core.
“He was at the game tonight,” she said. “I guarantee you that.”
Haig would have been most proud of the Viera defense, shutting down an STA team that scored 127 goals in 21 games. It scored none on this night, frustrated again and again by a determined Hawks team.
The defensive moments were plentiful: Sarah Sanford sacrificing her legs with 17 minutes to play to block the point-blank shot of Mary McCormick; goalkeeper Sydney Lau diving on a head-on shot from a Raiders attacker 90 seconds later; Julia Ramsey gently tapping the ball just inches over an opponent’s head near the end line in the final seconds, preventing any kind of shot but giving possession to a teammate rather than kicking it out and surrendering a corner kick.
“The most important thing wasn’t tactical,” Lundy said. “It had to do with our hearts.”
Watching video of the Raiders this week, the Hawks determined if they could get STA out of its offensive rhythm while also scoring first, panic might turn a powerhouse group into 11 individuals.
“It wasn’t just the first (defender),” Lundy said. “It was the next player to come help, and then the one after that.”
Offensively, Viera finally worked a play it had been practicing and had tried unsuccessfully in games. A corner kick from Brooke Walsh went to sister Jordan Walsh, back to Brooke and then off Hollyn Knight’s head and into the back of the net, 14:45 before halftime.
“We’ve been missing at that play a lot,” Jordan Walsh said, “so it was impressive to me that it clicked.”
Viera locked down its defense from there, stacking the deck against the high-scoring Raiders on their half of the field.
“We’re both great teams,” Viera’s J.J. Bryant said. “When you’re playing a great team, you’re not going to get a lot of opportunities. Every time you have a chance, you have to take advantage of it.”
Viera did, and the Hawks will play Friday at 9 p.m. against Niceville, a 4-2 winner over East Lake in the other 4A semifinal, whether that was supposed to happen or not.
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_McCallum and at facebook.com/FLtoday.brianmccallum.