Three years after they won their first state championship in girls soccer, the Alter Knights claimed their second, completing a dominant season and Division II tournament run with a 2-0 victory Saturday against Mansfield Madison Comprehensive.
» PHOTOS: Alter vs. Mansfield Madison
The senior captains, who were freshmen in 2016 when Alter beat Chagrin Falls 3-0 in the final, accepted the state championship trophy and then brought it back to their teammates. The entire team celebrated with the trophy hoisted high in the air before running to celebrate with their fans at MAPFRE Stadium.
"It means the world to me," senior Lauren Schimpf said, "and it means even more to bring it to this team. It just makes me really happy to be able to end my soccer career on this field. Winning this with all my best friends is something I'll never forget."
Schimpf put Alter ahead with 12:28 left in the first half. Her shot from well outside the penalty box hit the goalkeeper in the hands but bounced away and into the net. It was the 17th goal of the season for Schimpf.
» EARLIER COVERAGE: Alter beats Granville in state semis
"It definitely was luck," Schimpf said, "but at the same time, we knew we could test the goalkeeper. We wanted to shoot on them early. I think my shot was driven and down to the ground, and I knew she had a problem sometime going low, so I tried to get it on goal and on frame, and it seemed to challenge her, which worked well."
"We have so many kids who can really hit the ball from outside," Alter coach Javier Iriart said. "She's confident taking it from outside, and today it fell the right way."
Minutes earlier, Alter had two good chances on the same possession. The Madison goalkeeper saved one shot by reaching high to get a hand on the ball. Alter got the ball back, and a shot from outside the box hit the goalpost.
With 16:43 left in the second half, Alter extended its lead to 2-0. On a breakaway, senior forward Anna Sweeney passed to junior forward Nora Tyra, who scored her fifth goal of the season.
A year ago, Alter lost 3-2 in a penalty-kick shootout to Indiana Hill in the regional final. Two years ago, it lost 2-1 to Tippecanoe in the district final.
This was Alter’s eighth appearance in the state final four. It was runner-up in 2001 and 1998.
» LOOKING BACK: Alter beats Chagrin Falls to win state in 2016
Alter (21-1-1) became the second girls soccer program in Montgomery County to win multiple state championships. Northmont won titles in 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1989.
"The first one was kind of unexpected," Iriart said. "This one, for sure, was one we wanted badly. After everything we've been through the last two years and coming so close and having such good teams that fell short, it was time to complete the mission."
NOTES: Alter did not lose a game in its last 21 matches. It lost 3-1 to Centerville in the season opener and tied Mariemont 1-1 in the second-to-last regular-season game of the season. … Alter gave up one goal in its first tournament game, a 9-1 victory against Brookville, and then shut out its next five opponents, beating Chaminade Julienne, Anna, Oakwood, Monroe and Granville by a combined score of 14-0. … Madison Comprehensive was making its second appearance in the state tournament. It lost in the semifinals in 2017.
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