By CHIP CIRILLO
MURFREESBORO — St. George’s Brenlin Mullaney, an eighth-grade forward, scored the winning goal in the 71st minute, ending Christ Presbyterian Academy’s season with a 2-1 loss in the Division II-A semifinals Thursday night.
“We were 20 hours away from going as far as we could,” CPA coach Tom Gerlach said. “The newspaper said that we were the favorite and I always hate being that, and they did what all teams do: They brought their ‘A’ game.”
Emma Bennett’s unassisted goal in the 15th minute gave St. George’s (14-6-1) a 1-0 lead that stood until Mollyanne Thorne tied it in the 54th minute with an unassisted goal of her own.
Mullaney’s shot went far post and bounced into the net, putting the Lady Gryphons in Friday’s 4 p.m. final against Chattanooga Christian (21-1-2) at Siegel Soccer Complex.
“We were all kind of scared after (Thorne’s goal) so we just wanted to score and go home with a win,” Mullaney said.
St. George’s outshot CPA 9-8.
“I think it was a very even match,” said Thorne, who scored about 15 goals this season. “That’s high school soccer for girls. The game can fall either way with one shot.”
St. George’s redeemed itself after suffering a 3-2 loss to Battle Ground Academy in last year’s semifinals.
“After losing last year in the last six seconds, it feels pretty good,” Lady Gryphons coach Tony Whicker said. “(BGA) tied it up and we lost in overtime. Brenlin is going to be a special player.”
St. George’s is one win from its fourth state title and its first since 2013.
CPA has a talented eighth-grader of its own in forward Caroline Betts, who finished the season with 38 goals.
“She was scoring multiple goals in every game,” Gerlach said. “She has one of the best noses for the goal.”
Betts, who has great speed and acceleration, took four shots against St. George’s.
“There’s a magnet on her foot,” Gerlach kidded. “She does a nice little hesitation move and accelerates into space. She puts the ball low. The future looks bright for her.”