Lady Saints end milestone season with title
The St. Andrew’s Episcopal School Girls Soccer Team won the team’s second-consecutive state championship on Feb. 6 at Clinton High School.
Girls Soccer Coach Will Monsour, who has led the Lady Saints for four years, said he is proud of his team’s performance in the state championship and throughout the past year.
Monsour, who has made seven trips to the soccer state championship, said winning the second state championship felt better than winning the first.
“It is weird,” Monsour said. “It feels better than winning the first time. Winning the second time with COVID and everything made it difficult.”
Monsour, who has also coached at Hartfield and Madison Ridgeland Academy, said the Lady Saints had nine games canceled during the past season due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We had the shortest roster and the shortest season,” Monsour said of the team's 14 games, including the state championship game in which the Lady Saints beat St. Patrick of Biloxi 2-0 to claim the championship.
Senior Capt. Madeleine Halford scored the game-winning goal, Monsour said.
“All year, the team has been very explosive linking up well together,” Monsour said, adding that in the 10th-minute, the ball was crossed to Halford at the post. “She one-touch finished it.”
Halford said she was thrilled by the experience.
“It was like, if I had missed it, it would have been tragic,” Halford said. “It was the best feeling in the world.”
Halford said she played on the Lady Saints soccer team for six years since her seventh-grade year, and it was a great experience where she met a lot of friends.
Monsour said the team was led all season by four players, including seniors Halford, Samantha Smith and Mary Reagan Barnett and sophomore Kira LeFlore.
Monsour said he will lose five senior starters this year, including Halford.
“(Winning a second state championship) was the best way to end the best six years of my life,” Halford said. “I am so grateful I got to experience it.”
Smith said winning a second-straight state soccer championship was a great feeling.
“For the six years I was on the team and to see how hard everyone works to get not only one but two titles was great,” Smith said. “Everyone wanted it and worked hard all season, and with COVID we had to be extra careful. It showed how hard everyone worked all season. It was an awesome feeling.”
Smith said she also was happy the team came through for Monsour.
“Coach Will has coached me for (several) years,” Smith said. “It feels great to finish out the season with a coach like coach Will who has been through thick and tine with me. I’m glad to help with him getting a championship. He is a really great coach.”
Smith said she is not sure where she will go to college, but she will continue to play soccer. She is not sure, however, on what level she will play soccer.
Monsour said losing the seniors will be tough.
“Our roster is only 14,” Monsour said. “It is a big blow.”
LeFlore, Monsour said, is one of his best players, and he feels lucky to have her returning next season.
LeFlore scored 34 goals last season, Monsour said, with the final score in the state championship coming from LeFlore in the last five minutes of the championship game.
“I do have Kira coming back," Monsour said, "but we are losing the leadership of Madeleine and Sam and other leaders. It definitely hurts."
Monsour said he is especially proud of this year’s title-winning team.
“With this group and so many cancelations of games, it was hard to find rhythm throughout the season with the stops and starts and to come together and play the best games in the last four or five games is very impressive,” Monsour said.