Archbishop Ryan’s girls’ soccer team filed into the school chapel in unison for Mass at 10 a.m. Sunday morning, Oct. 26.
They all had a request for God.
“We prayed that we would win,” said junior Taylor Woods.
Of course, God wasn’t about to make sure the Ragdolls emerged victorious in the Catholic League championship that was to begin a few hours later. After all, it’s probable that Ryan’s opponent, Archbishop Wood, was busy imploring for a similar request.
That said, both teams would eventually do battle on Ryan’s home turf for approximately two hours, and when it was over, the Ragdolls accomplished what they always seem to accomplish — a victory.
Ryan’s 3-0 triumph raised the school’s championship streak to three. It also secured a perfect record against the Catholic League, and outside of allowing one goal to Little Flower in the playoff semifinal, the Ragdolls won every single game by shutout in what is officially the most dominant season by any girls’ soccer team in Catholic League history.
After earning her school-record 54th career whitewash, senior goalie Jazmin Gonzalez credited her teammates for an “amazing” performance.
“Everyone worked together,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve been doing that all year. When the offense and defense works together, good things happen.”
When Ryan’s appropriately named coach Ryan Haney inherited the program 10 years ago, a fallow period of five years without a single playoff victory might have suggested that an overwhelmingly difficult task lie ahead.
But Haney was as excited as he would have been had Ryan been a juggernaut.
“As soon as we had some stability things began falling into place,” Haney said. “We’ve had some great teams and this was one of them. To make history the way they did … it’s something they worked very hard for.”
Ryan’s goals were scored by freshman Haley O’Neill, senior Jules Blank and the aforementioned Woods. After later being reminded that she had scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the Catholic League championship, O’Neill smiled.
“It’s something that I’ll never forget,” she said.
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.