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Making History

The Aquinas High School varsity girls soccer team brought home the State Championship title following a remarkable undefeated season

The varsity girl's soccer team from Aquinas High School experienced an exceptional 2023 season! Under the leadership of team captains Landry Minton (senior), Caroline Jackson (senior), and Landry Washington (junior), the team won the Georgia High School Association 1A Division II State Championship, the first in Aquinas school history. The title came on the heels of an undefeated season (14-0), which included beating cross-town rivals Richmond Academy and Westminster. On its own, the season was spectacular, but what made it even sweeter is the fact that the girls did it all after not winning one game the previous season.

“At the end of the season last year for our last game at our home field, we had a chance to win it with a header that just barely missed,” shares Coach Sean Brandes. “Then, they scored a late goal to beat us 2-1. The girls were angry; they wanted to win and to show that they were better than that… and I think that carried over to this year. They were out from the first practice and ready to get going this season. In fact, almost all the girls that were on the team last year came back out this year, which says a lot about their perseverance and togetherness.”

Melissa Minton, coach and mom to team captain Landry Minton, agrees that the girls had something they wanted to prove this year. “This year’s seniors were freshmen COVID year,” explains Melissa. “That season got cut short because of COVID and they had a really good team that year. So I think the energy and motivation that the seniors had with feeling cheated their first year stayed with them throughout high school. After they won their first game this year, they knew they could go far this season and that was a driving force in the conversations that they would have with the rest of the team… to redeem the COVID year and finish their high school soccer career strong.”

As the team transitioned from a losing season to a winning season, the coaching staff, which includes Sean and Melissa and also Riley Washington and Andres Jarvis, continued to focus on fundamentals. “We had the same core principles as last year: respect, knowing the game, thinking and hustling,” says Sean. They did, however, make adjustments when it came to team building. “We went to Top Golf and had a family spaghetti dinner - all before the first game so that the girls could get to know one another better away from the sport, which is a big momentum-building aspect of why it was different this year,” adds Sean.

Growing support from fans also energized and encouraged the team to finish the season strong. “When we were getting to the semifinals, more and more of the students and their families were coming out and watching our games, which all ended up being at home because we kept winning,” shares Melissa. “Such great fan following and also support from our Booster Club made a huge difference because the girls loved having a crowd so much. Then, to win that championship game and have two chartered buses full of fans, in addition to individual people who drove separately, come and support us in Powder Springs… that was monumental and just a lot of fun.”

Congratulations to the Aquinas girl's soccer team on a phenomenal season!