By Jeff Odom
TAMPA — For a program that had never even won a district title before this season, it would have been understandable for Holy Names to feel the pressure going into its first Class 2A region final.
After all, to many teams, just getting to this point would have been enough. Not for the Jaguars. They had made it clear there would be no celebration or looking ahead before getting through Friday night's match.
Prepared and focused throughout its unprecedented postseason run, AHN continued its dominance against Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, allowing just one shot on net in a 3-0 shutout.
"It's huge; it's big for the girls," said AHN coach Kareem Escayg, whose team has not allowed a goal since a 6-1 victory over Indian Rocks Christian on Jan. 8.
"I'm so proud of them. They deserve everything."
It took just five minutes for sophomore Sophia Tremonti to give the Jaguars (19-1) an early advantage, corralling a bouncing ball after a free kick to find the back of the net. Then, in the 19th minute, Claire Obeck took a long feed from teammate Julia Lester and raced down the right side to beat the goalkeeper with a hard shot to her left.
Lester, a University of Florida commit, netted the dagger in the 46th after squeezing past a pair of Mooney defenders to set up a blast into the upper-left corner.
The Cougars' best chance to score came on a corner kick late in the second half that was easily headed away from the box. They didn't threaten again.
When the final whistle blew, AHN finally had a chance to celebrate its biggest triumph yet. Teammates mobbed each other on the field. Parents and students streamed onto the turf from the sideline and joined in, too.
"We're all very happy that we made history," Lester said. "We finally got a banner this year. Now we get two titles on it."
If all goes according to plan in Melbourne, they'll make it three.