By Rubin E. Grant
The second-ranked Homewood Patriots girls soccer team bowed out in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs last Friday, but head coach Mindy McBride wasn’t overly disap- pointed.
In her first year back at the helm after taking more than a decade away to care for her four children, McBride was proud of what the Patriots achieved.
“I am very pleased with the season,” McBride said. “It’s exactly what I expected. We had a very talented group of girls and a great cohesive group. It was a tough way to go out, but we did have a successful season.”
Homewood lost its first-round game 4-3 to defending Class 6A champion and fourth-ranked Chelsea, the third consecutive year the Patriots were eliminated by the Hornets in the opening round.
Homewood trailed 3-0 at halftime then rallied in the second half, but Chelsea managed to maintain the lead and pull out the victory.
‘We let them get up early,” McBride said. “I talked to the girls at half-time, that we didn’t want our season to be over and to come out and play hard. We played a great second half. We were able to score some goals and get close, but they scored their fourth goal on an indirect kick and that put them over the top.”
The Patriots finished 15-7-3 and tied No. 1 ranked John Carroll Catholic for the regular season Class 6A, Area 8 championship with each team posting 3-2 victories on the road. But the Cavaliers won a coin toss and received the No. 1 seed in the area and a home field first-round playoff match-up against Pelham, while the No. 2 seeded Patriots had to travel to Chelsea. John Carroll beat Pelham 2-0 to advance.
“We always talk about the uncontrollables, whether it’s the weather, the field conditions, the referees or a coin toss,” McBride said. “We always want to go out and play to the best of our ability.”
The Patriots featured a deep and experienced team with eight seniors and nine juniors and a nice blend of talented younger players.
“Our seniors gave us leadership, composure and confidence,” McBride said. “And we had some good juniors. These girls have been playing together for several years. They work together seamlessly.”
Junior Lizzie Oliver, sophomore Claire Touliatos and eighth-grader Lilly Lowery led the team in goal scoring.
“We had a good group of strikers,” McBride said. “They were really good at taking the ball at midfield and starting our offense.”
Sophomore midfielder Maggie O’Hare was a strong presence on the field.
“She has tremendous foot skill and is really good controlling the ball,” McBride said. “She was kind of the hub of the team.”
Junior goalkeeper Jada Repp was solid throughout the season.
“She had a very good year,” McBride said. “She was out all last year with a knee injury, a torn ACL. We were glad to have her back.”
Homewood played a demanding schedule. Four of their seven losses were to Class 7A playoff teams, but the Patriots also beat Mountain Brook for the first time in several years. The Patriots lost twice to Chelsea, once in the regular season and once to John Carroll.
“We wanted to play a hard schedule, so we could be ready for any opponent,” McBride said.
McBride, the wife of Homewood boys coach Sean McBride, previously had a nine-year stint as the Patriots’ coach before stepping aside in 2005. She continued to coach for the Homewood Soccer Club. When the Homewood High job came open last spring, McBride said, “I stepped in to fill the role. I am really glad to be back.”
She believes the Patriots have a bright future.
“We’re losing eight seniors, so some of the younger players will have to step up,” McBride said. “We have a lot of up-and-coming players from our junior varsity.
“I’m very optimistic about the future. We enjoyed some success this season and raised the standard of expectations. I’m a firm believer that success breeds more success,” McBride said. ❖