JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The storybook high school career had one very big speed bump for Grace Ivey.
And, with the benefit of hindsight, was totally worth it for the Bartram Trail girls soccer star.
The only blemish for Ivey, now a two-time All-News4JAX girls soccer player of the year, was a harsh ending to her junior season in 2022. That loss, Bartram’s lone defeat of the year, ended a quest for a threepeat for Ivey and the Bears.
It also managed to do something else.
It made Ivey’s final season one of redemption, an unbeaten march to their third state championship in four years. It galvanized the Bears and players like Ivey, who had played together for years, both in high school and in club at Florida Elite.
The result was a buzzsaw of a year, a 21-0-2 mark that ended with a 3-0 win over Boca Raton for the Class 7A title. It also included the state’s Miss Soccer honor for Ivey, who said that she was far more appreciative of the peak after she and the Bears went through the valley.
“I really think we did have a lot of setbacks and that was really an emotionally hard year for me and all my teammates. I think that it just made this year that much more special for us because I think we were able to overcome the kind of obstacles in the emotional aspect that we had,” Ivey said.
“And we were able to just pull together as a team and I think it made us even closer. And I think that’s really what helped us be successful this year is that we kind of came together.”
The valley came last year when the heavily favored and unbeaten Bears barreled in to the second round of the playoffs ranked No. 1 in the country. How unlikely was a loss? Bartram had allowed just three goals all season and had beaten rival Creekside 6-0 and 2-0 already. The Knights pulled the seismic upset with a 3-2 win and went on to win the Class 7A state championship.
That loss, painful and unfathomable at the time, became the base line for the Bears, both in competition and in life. Perspective was key after that loss, Ivey said.
“I think we all learned a really big lesson that we had to take each game one game at a time,” Ivey said. “And so, I think it was a really, really good learning curve for us. I just really think that it motivated us even more to come get it back this season. And I think honestly, it was a very good learning experience for all of us.”
The Bears were focused and relentless this year. Ivey was a master on the pitch, cranking out 35 assists and scoring 19 goals. She was content to set up teammates like first-team forward Olivia Bori and draw double teams to free up others. Ivey said the experience of playing at Bartram was unforgettable.
“I’ve just gotten to play with my best friends. I’ve made my best friends for life. It was just the most amazing experience getting to win three state championships with some of my best friends,” Ivey said. “And I just had the time of my life playing with all these people. It’s just such a great environment to be in. So, I really just think, just the lifelong friends that I’ve made and the best teammates I could ever ask for.”
All-News4JAX girls soccer
Pos., Player, School, Class, Notable
F Olivia Bori, Bartram Trail, Sr.
Leading goal scorer (27) on one of the country’s best teams. Added 12 assists. Two-time All-News4JAX first-team selection. Signed with Florida Atlantic.
F Annalise Cannada, Bolles, Sr.
Class 3A player of the year. Scored 26 goals and added 13 assists to help Bolles finish 15-7-3. Has signed with University of Kentucky.
F Jennifer Dearie, Ponte Vedra, So.
Big time scorer for the nationally ranked Sharks. Scored 20 goals in her second season.
F Sydney Schmidt, St. Johns Country Day, Fr.
Do-it-all player for the Spartans. She led the team with 25 goals, 22 assists while facing one of the most daunting schedules in the country.
MF Grace Ivey, Bartram Trail, Sr.
Now a two-time All-News4JAX player of the year. Three-time All-News4JAX first-team selection. Had 19 goals, 35 assists this season in leading Bartram to third title in four years. Scored 59 goals, added 59 assists in her career. Named Miss Soccer this season. Texas A&M signee.
MF Carolyn Johnson, Bartram Trail, Jr.
Had 10 goals, 8 assists for a dominant Bears team that romped to their third state championship in four seasons.
MF Lauryn Mateo, St. Johns Country Day, Sr.
In the conversation as the area’s top player. Integral part of the Spartans dynasty for years. Had 19 goals, 16 assists in state runner-up season. Class 2A player of the year. Had 35 goals, 23 assists in her final two seasons. Embry-Riddle signee.
MF Kaitlyn Scherer, Fleming Island, Sr.
Versatile player could score (7 goals), but even better at setting teammates up (23 assists). Has signed with Florida Gulf Coast.
D Anna Bachman, Bartram Trail, Sr.
Four-year player for the Bears and anchor of a wicked defense that surrendered just seven goals all season. Had four assists, two goals this season. Has signed with Mercer.
D Olivia Bestic, Ponte Vedra, Sr.
Rugged defender who helped the nationally ranked Sharks. Big part of a defense that allowed just 13 goals all season against a top-shelf schedule. Has signed with Davidson.
D Gaby Rourke, Atlantic Coast, Jr.
Tough to assign just one position to the University of Kentucky commit. Plays keeper, defense, forward, midfielder, anywhere that she’s needed. Stats (7 goals, 6 assists) are deceptive considering her versatility.
GK Taylor Sweat, Fletcher, Sr.
Had four shutouts, 1.07 goals against average. Helped lead Senators to the Class 6A state title as a junior. Has signed with Arkansas State University.
Pos., Player, School, Class
F Taliah Brooks, Mandarin, So.: Had 21 goals, 11 assists for the 11-5-2 Mustangs.
F Kiersten Shaw, Keystone Heights, So.: Ridiculous stats. Scored 71 goals, added 19 assists.
MF Emma Griner, Stanton, Jr.: Had 18 goals, 8 assists for state semifinalist Blue Devils.
MF Avery Raimondo, St. Johns Country Day, Sr.: Scorer (11 goals) but superb at setting up teammates (24 assists). UNF signee.
MF Malia Roberts, Bartram Trail, Sr.: Force on the Bears for more than just offense. Had 2 goals, assist for 7A state champs.
MF Taylor Tamares, Fleming Island, Jr.: Had 10 goals, 4 assists for regional finalist Golden Eagles.
MF Sophia Vaughan, Tocoi Creek, Sr.: Had 8 goals, 5 assists for the Toros.
D Hadley Conway, Ponte Vedra, Jr.: Important piece of Sharks defense. Also had 8 assists.
D Katie Farr, Bolles, Sr.: Important in the back for the Bulldogs. Also had 5 goals, 3 assists for regional finalist.
D Emma Revels, Bartram Trail, Sr.: Massive presence on defense for a Bears team that allowed just 7 goals all season.
D Katy Tamares, Fleming Island, Sr.: Factor in scoring, but a bigger forcer on defense for the 12-5-2 Golden Eagles.
GK Amaya Logan, Creekside, Sr.: Had 7 shutouts for defending state champion Knights.
MF Elle Anderson, Providence, Jr.; F Mina Bernthal, St. Augustine, Fr.; MF Bailey Brinson, Atlantic Coast, Sr.; F Brianna Campos, Fletcher, Sr.; MF Skylar Dancel, Episcopal, Jr.; F Kirra Dodson, Clay, So.; D Mia Duncan, Tocoi Creek, Sr.; D Madison Erwin, St. Johns Country Day, Sr.; F Eiley Fennell, Bishop Kenny, Jr.; GK Ava Galani, Episcopal, So.; MF Chloe Iliff, Creekside, Jr.; D Kennedy Johnsen, Fleming Island, Sr.; GK Audrey Johnson, Ponte Vedra, Jr.; GK Zoe Lieb, Bolles, Sr.; GK Roxy Mathews, St. Johns Country Day, Jr.; F Salah Miller, Menendez, Sr.; MF Savannah O’Grady, Flagler Palm Coast; F Sophia Pontieri, St. Johns Country Day, So.; MF Sawyer Reynolds, Fletcher, Sr.; MF Avery Robinson, Creekside, Jr.; MF Reygan Ropero, St Augustine, Fr.; GK Louisa St. Vincent, Menendez, Sr.; MF Charlotte Seay, Episcopal, Sr.; D Alia Soares, Ponte Vedra, Jr.; D Emma Swearingen, Flagler Palm Coast; F Adrienne Trerotola, Mandarin, Sr.; D Eden Freeman-Warren, Bartram Trail, So.; MF/F Ana Whitehouse, St. Joseph, Sr.; GK Savannah Yerger, Stanton, So.