History made: Fletcher girls win first state championship with tough defense

The Fletcher girls soccer team won its first state championship with a 1-0 win over Lourdes Academy. (Justin Barney, News4JAX)

DELAND, Fla. – Fletcher came to make history and wasn’t leaving without it.

The Senators got their lone goal in the 63rd minute from Angelina Madera and defense did the rest in a 1-0 win over Lourdes Academy in the Class 6A girls soccer state championship on Friday at Spec Martin Stadium.

The win was historic.

No boys or girls team from a Duval County Public School had ever brought home a state title. Fletcher had been here once before, all the way back in 1998. Now, they’re a part of history.

“I’m not sure [if it’s sunk in],” said Fletcher coach Bradley Plummer. “You know, I’m sticky, I just got stung by a bee. I got a game ball, I don’t think it’s hit me. What those girls have accomplished and what they were able to do it, the way that they were able to come together is one of the most incredible things that I’ve been able to be a part of as a coach. My hat’s off to those girls. They earned every second of the way in this playoff run.”

It was all timing.

Fletcher goalkeeper Taylor Sweat was a wall in net, swatting shot after shot away by the Bobcats. Lourdes outshot Fletcher 14-5 and the Senators had just one shot on goal in the first half. Sweat and the defense kept Fletcher in the game while the Senators bided their time and sought their one chance.

“I think the underdog mentality really helped us,” Sweat said. “We had a point to prove and we did it. And I could not be more proud of everybody.”

One play decided it.

With 17 minutes to play and nothing going against Lourdes, Fletcher had one break.

Madera got the ball and took quick advantage of a Lourdes defensive lapse. With a step on her defender and the keeper out too far and playing the ball wrong, it may have been the easiest goal of Madera’s career. She tapped it and it rolled in untouched.

“The goal was great. Coach Plummer told me go on the middle,” Madera said. “And finally I ran into the ball and all I thought was all I can do is take a touch and I post it and it was in our favor. I can’t even explain it. Especially for Fletcher soccer, like we’ve come all this way haven’t made it about like 20 plus years. It just got great. Everyone came together, left everything on the field.”

Sweat did the rest. Peppered by Lourdes all game, she turned back everything.

“Defense was absolutely great. Taylor is, honestly, in my opinion, the GOAT,” Madera said. “She saved us from multiple goals, thanks to her.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.