* This article was edited on May 17, 2018 to correctly identify Faith Hauberg as a Vestavia Hills High School senior.
By Blake Ells
Vestavia Hills took home its fifth 7A girls state soccer championship, beating McGill-Toolen 2-1 to end the year with a 22-3-1 record.
The win, secured May 12, was sweet for the girls, who lost their championship bid last year to McGill-Toolen.
It was the fourth win for coach Brigid Littleton, who said each of her championship teams was different.
“A couple of years, there was no doubt. Nobody could hang with us. We probably should have won last year; two years ago there was no doubt. This year, there was that same type of attitude. They believed in everything we were doing.”
It began with the team’s attitude at the start of the day, something Littleton said was much different than it was a year ago.
“When we got on … (the) bus, I looked at them and they were wide-eyed. They were ready, they were alert,” she said. “And I said, ‘Are you ready?’ and they said, ‘Coach, we’ve got this. We’re going to win.’ They were confident. They weren’t cocky.
They just knew that we could execute what we practice; execute what we had seen on film. Deny them what they want to do.”
Seniors Faith Hauberg and Taylor Korn each scored goals in the Rebels’ victory. It was Korn’s that secured the win.
“I knew when we got their center back a step and Taylor got free and broke away, I knew that she had a shot,” said Littleton. “She drilled it so perfectly.”
Hauberg earned MVP honors in the state finals. Goalkeeper Anna Woodson had five saves to help secure the title.
“We don’t get tired,” Littleton said. “We’re going to work harder and we are going to be stronger and faster than everybody else. Even when they tied it up, they weren’t worried. I could hear them on the bench, ‘We’re going to score again.’”
This year’s squad had six seniors, four of whom also were on the 2016 state championship team.
“All six of them were leaders and they all contributed every game,” said Littleton. “And when they weren’t playing, they were leading off the field, being good mentors for the young kids. Because we had six freshmen, too. We played at least three freshmen most games. (The seniors) were just good leaders. I just had to coach, really. They made sure they were working hard and that everyone around them was working hard, too. And everyone around ‘em followed them.”
The girls said they were close on and off the field.
“I think it helped a lot that we have a good relationship,” Korn said. “There’s no dissension. I think coach Littleton may have been worried at the beginning of the season that, with so many seniors, we’d get unfocused near the end of the season because everyone has so much going on, but she helped us stay on track and it was good to have a lot of leaders.”
Korn feels confident about the team that her class will leave behind.
“I feel great about next year’s team, she said. “I think they’re very capable.” ❖