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Gaither gets the one goal it needs for title

5A-7

Shanna Pace's goal in the third minute held up for the next 77 as Gaither beat Sickles 1-0 Friday in a rainy Class 5A, District 7 final.

"I got a great pass from (Carey Hummel), it came off my right foot, and it's all about finishing," Pace said.

The freshman striker also had two goals in Gaither's 6-1 semifinal win over Chamberlain on Wednesday.

The Gryphons (15-5-1) had several opportunities to tie in the second half.

In the 45th minute, Wendy Moenart struck one from the left side that slipped between the legs of Cowboy goalie Kaley Brown but rolled harmlessly off the right post.

An attempt by Jannah Yowell went just wide, and one by Shannon Kelly hit the crossbar.

Meanwhile, Gaither kept rotating its forwards to keep pressure on the Gryphons goal, resulting in close chances by Heather Dickson and Hummel.

"It was a great game for the fans," Gaither coach Diane Sumner said. "Sickles is a tough team. I told (Gryphons coach) George (Arroyo) that I expect to see them again in the regional final."

Pace credited Sumner's pregame pep talk for firing up the team.

"We came out determined," Pace said. "We knew they would be strong, and we had to be stronger."

"There's just so much emotion when we play Sickles," Sumner said. "I told the team, "Injured, hurting, whatever, you leave nothing on the field and you can rest on Saturday.' "

The Gryphons travel to play unbeaten Hillsborough (18-0) Thursday. They lost to the Terriers 2-1 earlier. Gaither faces Plant (8-7-1).

It was the first district title for the Cowboys (12-2-3) since Sumner's first season in 1999, when they lost in the region final to Lake Howell.

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