A St. Pius boys soccer team that had allowed just six goals in its first 20 games this season doesn’t need much of a cushion.
Tyler Alexander provided the Golden Lions with all the offense they would need midway through the first half, scoring the first goal in St. Pius’ 2-0 victory against Woodward Academy in the Class AAA championship game Friday at Kennesaw State.
The victory gave St. Pius (19-0-2) its ninth state championship and its third in five seasons. It also gave the Atlanta private school a sweep of the Class AAA titles after its girls team defeated Blessed Trinity earlier in the day. St. Pius had won the boys and girls titles in the same season three previous times (2001, 2009 and 2011).
Woodward Academy (13-7-1), which also lost to St. Pius 6-1 on April 19 in Region 6-AAA, was the defending boys state champion.
“The goal was to try and go up as early as we possibly could,” St. Pius coach David O’Shea said. “That allows us to dominate the rest of the game. They sat in and defended us a little bit, so we were hoping that if we got a goal early it would force them to come out a little bit, which would allow us to play. I think that’s what happened.”
Alexander scored at the 24:46 mark of the half with a high shot from the left side that went over a leaping try by Woodward Academy goalkeeper Matthew Reynolds. J.D. Manzo added a goal with 22:58 to play in the game when he flipped in a shot with the back of his foot after a corner kick had been headed in his direction.
The closest Woodward Academy came to scoring against St. Pius goalkeeper Ryan Beck was a free kick by Nolan Hall that hit the crossbar with five minutes to play.
St. Pius finished the season with 16 shutouts, including all five games in the postseason. The Golden Lions outscored their opponents 22-0 in the state playoffs.
“Throughout the season they’ve been just phenomenal on the back line,” O’Shea said. “Ryan leads the back line. They’re comfortable along the back line. They have confidence in Ryan, and the central defenders have been outstanding. That’s what makes a good defense.”