VIDEO: Viera High Girls Soccer Earns Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Team of the Year
By By Alan Zlotorzynski // May 3, 2016
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: Viera High School girls soccer earned back-to-back state soccer championships during the past two seasons. It is very difficult to win one championship much less two during any time period for any program in any sport – but to win back-to-back titles is a feat worthy of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
2016 TEAM INDUCTEE
Viera High School Girls Soccer Head Coach Courtney Baines-Lundy Leads Hawks To Back-To-Back State Soccer Championships
If you ask the great modern coaches of any sport, such as, Bill Belichick, Phil Jackson and Joe Torre the question, what’s the best way to follow up a championship season, most assuredly the answer will be – win another one.
That’s exactly what the 2014-15 Viera Hawks girls’ soccer team did this past season when they captured back-to-back state titles following the 2015-16 season.
And with all due respect to Belichick, Jackson and Torre, the Hawks are led by a Hall of Fame former player from the Space Coast, who certainly is on her way to becoming a Hall of Fame coach.
Hawks head coach Courtney Baines-Lundy starred as a forward for Satellite High School from 2000 to 2002. A three-year starter for the late, great Space Coast Sports Hall of Famer Fidgi Haig, Baines-Lundy, a 2013 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee, led the Scorpions to its first state championship in 2002.
Baines-Lundy captained the 2002 squad, which would go down as the greatest team in school history. That team finished 29-1-1 and produced more than a dozen Division I athletes.
Now as a head coach, Baines-Lundy has led two different types of teams to the same result, a state championship. Over the past two seasons Viera has posted a combined 39-3-1 mark.
In each of the championship runs the prevailing theme has been to be confident and finish, regret nothing– but at times throughout each run, it appeared as if finishing would be far easier said than done.
The 2014-15 run to a state title included three wins against archrival Melbourne, a team the Hawks had only beaten once prior to last season.
The final victory vs. Melbourne last season was perhaps the school’s biggest win in program history to date. The Hawks beat the Bulldogs in a game that was played in the regional semifinals and did so on penalty kicks. Then freshman goalkeeper Sydney Lau, playing on a bum knee made a save on Melbourne’s last attempt to seal the Dawgs’ fate.
Following the playoff win over Melbourne, Viera took to the road and trailed Mitchell 3-1 with 25 minutes to play before rallying to win 4-3 to advance to their first Final Four.
From there it was easy for Viera, as they defeated Navarre in the state semifinals, then dominated Pembroke Pines Charter. The combined final score of both games was an impressive 6-0. The victory was the Hawks first state championship the girls’ soccer team had won, and it was just the third team title in Viera High School history.
Repeating wouldn’t be easy.
There would be some significant player losses for Viera. Gone was 22-goal scorer and the 2015 Player of the Year, Hope Leonard and second team all-county player Niki Fisher, and despite suffering just two losses during the previous season, the champion Viera Hawks girls’ soccer team was not the favorite to repeat this year.
That designation belonged to St. Thomas Aquinas, who entered the postseason, as the nation’s No.1 team and dropped down from Class 5A, where they were the defending champions.
To further complicate the situation, Viera lost to St. Thomas in mid-December last season, 2-0 and if the Hawks were going to repeat, it most likely would have to be done with a victory over the Nation’s No.1 team.
However, the Hawks would return 13 players this past season and the experience of playing and winning together would pay dividends.
The Hawks began their quest to go back to back with a 0-0 tie vs. another Brevard County soccer power, Merritt Island. The girls would then reel off eight straight wins by a combined score of 49-2.
Following a tough 3-2 loss to Oviedo, Viera reeled off nine more consecutive wins, including two over the Melbourne Bulldogs. Viera entered the playoffs having outscored their opponents during the regular season 96-7.
They began the playoffs with a 4-0 victory over Lake Minneola, and then beat Edgewater 2-1 in double overtime. In their next contest, the girls kicked off against Mitchell, a team they trailed and came back on during last season’s title run but never trailed in this one, winning 2-0 to advance to the Final Four where awaiting them would be the No.1 team in the country, St. Thomas Aquinas.
Against the Raiders, heart prevailed above everything else because heart wins out every time when talent on the field is equal or just a little bit better than yours.
The Hawks would score once on a corner kick play from Brooke Walsh to sister Jordan Walsh, who got the ball back to Brooke, who then kicked it off Hollyn Knight’s head and into the back of the net with 15 minutes to play in the first half.
The Hawks made the one goal stand as the defense was relentless, sacrificing body and limb to keep STA out of the net.
The Hawks avenged one of their only defeats during the past two years by beating St. Thomas but to repeat they would still have to defeat the 23-0 team from a town called Niceville.
On their archrivals’ field, Melbourne High’s Tom McIntyre Stadium, Viera would get two goals via goalmouth scrambles. The first was by senior Sarah Kelliher, with 13:08 to play in the first half. The goal was especially sweet for the senior, who missed last year’s run to the state championship because she was recovering from a torn knee ligament.
Niceville tied the contest a few minutes later. The Hawks bent on many occasions throughout the two games, but they did not break. With just 7:23 to play in the contest, senior Jordan Walsh lined up to take a free kick 70-feet away from the goal, and after bouncing off the head of an Eagles defender, the ball somehow found its way into the net for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
Perhaps the most excited the team got following their victory in the championship game wasn’t when they received their medals for first place. That moment occurred when coach Baines-Lundy told them their accomplishments had earned them the distinction of being inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame. The cheers turned to jeers when they were told they would all have to dress up in gowns, you know how athletes can be.
It is very difficult to win one championship much less two during any time period for any program in any sport – but to win back-to-back titles is a feat worthy of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
With 12 returning players next season, don’t be surprised to see some of these girls at next year’s banquet once again being honored for a feat not accomplished on the Space Coast since the Cocoa Tigers won three straight state titles in football from 2008-2010.
Three-peat! Let the quest begin!
THE 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 12.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
CLICK HERE to see all the members of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.