This story first appeared May 18, 2011

RETRO WEDNESDAY - Spanish Fort tops Chelsea 6-3 to win 5A state championship



With most sports at all levels taking indefinite time outs, we thought we would go through the Gulf Coast Media Sports stacks for some memorable reruns of Baldwin County sports stories. In 2011, the Spanish Fort Lady Toros secured the Class 5A state soccer crown. It was an especially sweet treat to earn the Blue Map state trophy after taking the runner-up cup in 2010.

This story appeared May 18, 2011

Spanish Fort tops Chelsea 6-3 to win 5A state championship

By Eric Mann, Gulf Coast Media Sports

HUNTSVILLE – Spanish Fort struggled out of the gate and fell behind early in Saturday’s Class 5A state championship game, but after 80 minutes of play the Lady Toros left no doubt that they were the better team on the field.

Spanish Fort scored five unanswered goals to beat Chelsea and close out it’s first state championship in girls soccer.

“I think because it was so early we were moving kind of slow at first,” Spanish Fort senior and 5A MVP Elissa VandeWaa said. “We really picked it up and gained some intensity at halftime. We were just ready to go. We were ready to win state.”

Chelsea scored three quick goals in the first 14 minutes of the first half and led 3-1 at the 26:23 mark. Stephanie Labeau scored for the Hornets at 38:38, then VandeWaa tied the game with a goal off an assist from Alicia Linder at 33:28. Chelsea’s Lauren Swee beat Spanish Fort keeper Johannah Scott on a penalty kick at 27:24 and the Hornets added another goal at 26:23.

VandeWaa scored her second goal at 25:04 with an assist from Mariah King, then Linder scored off a pass from VandeWaa with 10 minutes left In the first half to tie the game at 3.

“When we were down 3-1 they didn’t give up,” Spanish Fort head coach Barclay Kercher said. “They knew that they wanted to take home the blue map (first-place trophy) this year. I am just very, very proud of them and of the leadership of our seniors.

“I really think that when it was 3-3 at the half, we knew that we were the better team here, the more experienced team being that we were here last year. I felt like they had the drive that they knew they were the better team and wanted to come out and show it.”

Kercher made some adjustments at the half, including moving sophomore mid-fielder Rebekah Diring from the left side to right side of the field.

“She is the stallion. She can just run and run and run,” Kercher said. “She’s always our first finisher in our distance run. She is the key to our offense. She gets the ball to Vandy (VandeWaa) who plays it off and we finish.”

The move paid off in the first four minutes of the second half as Diring passed to Megan Forbes for a score at 36:00. VandeWaa, who was the 5A MVP, assisted Jessica Watts for two goals to close out the win.

“I am so excited,” VandeWaa, who also played basketball for Spanish Fort, said. “I was able to play really well because my team played awesome. They really helped me out and we made it happen.”

Spanish Fort defeated Russell County 10-0 in the first round and topped rival Gulf Shores 4-0 in the second round to reach the final four. The Lady Toros defeated Athens 2-1 in penalty kicks on Friday to reach the championship game.

Diring scored the Toros’ goal in regulation, then Watts, Calley Sholder and Marissa Babbs scored and Toro goalie Johannah Scott had four saves in the penalty kick session.

“The feeling here is unbelievable,” said Kercher, who also led the Toros to their runner-up finish last season.

“This is a special group. I’ve been coaching this group for four years. I’ve had my seniors since they were freshmen. Being able to give this to them, for some of them this is their last game, what a great memory.”

The 2011 championship seniors for Spanish Fort’s Lady Toros were Meghan Cassady, Mallory JayJohn, King, Linder and VandeWaa.

The championship statistical leaders for SFHS in the win were VandeWaa: two goals, three assists; Watts: two goals; Linder: goal, assist; Megan Forbes: goal; King: assist; Diring: assist.

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Also, that spring, Daphne’s Lady Trojans made it to the Class 6A soccer championship with a 2-1 overtime win over Mary G. Montgomery, a 2-0 shutout win over Northview and a 3-0 victory over Auburn. But the DHS girls came home with the runner-up trophy after a 5-0 loss to Spain Park’s Jaguars. The Trojans’ boys team made it to the 6A final-four tournament in Huntsville, but fell in the semifinals to 2011 runner-up Enterprise.

In baseball, the SFHS Toros advanced to the Class 5A state championship series to win the AHSAA state title with a two-game sweep over Cullman 16-6 and 11-6. It was their second-state title after claiming the championship in 2010. To get to the championship series for the second straight season, SF swept Russell County, 8-3 and 6-5. The Toros defeated Chilton County in a semifinal series that went three games. In the quarterfinals they swept St. Paul’s 6-5 and 10-4.

 In Class 6A, Baldwin County High’s baseball Tigers also advanced to the title series with a 3-2, 3-0 sweep over the Alma Bryant Hurricanes, but finished as the 6A runner-up to Huntsville’s Panthers who swept the series 6-1 and 10-2.

In softball, Fairhope’s Lady Pirates advanced to the Class 6A Elite Eight state tournament at Lagoon Park, they were the only fast-pitch team to make the final tournament in Montgomery that year. They advanced through the bracket with  6-0 win over Spakman, but dropped into the losers’ braket with a 5-0 loss to eventual state champion Dothan. The Pirates battled out of the bottom bracket with a 9-0 win over Bob Jones and  a 1-0 win over Tuscaloosa before being eliminated 3-0 by state runner-up Hoover.

In tennis Alexander Dyas of Bayside Academy won the AHSAA Boys 1A-3A state singles championship. In 5A, Mitchel Vegas won the boys state crown for Spanish Fort. In the doubles division Vegas and teammate Barry Booth won the boys doubles title. In 3A, Dyas and teammate Camp Campbell repeated as state champions for Bayside.

Check out a hard-copy rerun in the April 8, 2010 Baldwin Times at many supermarket locations and racks as well as our home offce in Foley at 901 North McKenzie St. 251-943-2151

Visit for more playoff and championship and playoff results history.