By Randy Jennings / Special Contributor
FORT WORTH — It was just a matter of time until Hockaday’s second-half dominance would be rewarded with the breakthrough moment.
Despite a compacted and stubborn Houston St. John’s defense, the goal that sent Hockaday to its second consecutive SPC girls soccer championship was finally delivered by Aynalie Charron with nine regulation minutes remaining.
The freshman midfielder, positioned on the left side of the St. John’s goalmouth, used her right knee to deflect a curling 25-yard free kick from Leena Mehendale into the net for a 2-1 Hockaday victory on Saturday.
“My job is to be in position for any balls that get through,’’ said Charron. “My first thought was ‘no way, that did not just happen.’ This whole season has been like a great dream.’’
Hockaday (17-1-2) celebrated its sixth SPC girls soccer title since 2005, following up on a 2020 championship.
The only other loss for St. John’s (16-2) was to Hockaday on Dec. 3 by a 1-0 score. St. John’s and Hockaday were meeting in their third consecutive SPC final.
The biting north wind played a role in game strategy. When Hockaday won the opening coin-toss, head coach Rod Skaife chose for his team to play into the wind in the first half.
“We took a gamble,’’ the coach admitted.
When St. John’s grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute on a 30-yard wind-aided laser by Olivia Pieper, Skaife might have been questioning his decision.
But Hockaday equalized with 8:40 remaining in the opening half on a clever tap by JoJo Ma from left of the goal that bounded over the goalkeeper and into the far side of the net. A well-worked throw by Jules Johnson found Ma breaking toward the net in stride.
The Daisies reached the final with two wins on Friday, 5-1 over Houston Kinkaid and 4-1 in the semifinals against Houston Episcopal. Hockaday’s only loss this season was at UIL Class 6A powerhouse Southlake Carroll.
“Our captains and seniors set the tone,’’ he said. “This is probably the strongest soccer-playing team we’ve had. A great bunch.’’
Also at the SPC winter championships on Saturday, Greenhill suffered a heartbreaking 56-55 defeat to Houston Episcopal in the boys basketball title game. The Hornets led for most of the second half, but a late 3-pointer by Episcopal’s Justin Begg was the game-winner.
Lee Dort scored 22 points to lead Greenhill (23-9), which had its 12-game winning streak snapped and narrowly missed its first conference crown in more than two decades. The Hornets knocked off St. Mark’s in the semifinals on Friday.
In swimming, Hockaday claimed its first girls team crown since 2016 while defending champion St. Mark’s was fourth in the boys standings.
Individual event winners for Hockaday included Brooke Adams (50 freestyle and 100 freestyle) and Julia Luo (100 breaststroke). Greenhill’s Josie Arbuckle took the girls 200 freestyle.
Perennial wrestling power St. Mark’s finished third as a team, but featured a handful of weight-class champions including Perkison Quina (106 pounds), Hayward Metcalf (138 pounds), Jedidiah Kim (145 pounds), Sal Abbasi (152 pounds), and Elijah Ellis (195 pounds).