Guntersville High School (17-4-3) scored three goals in the span of two minutes and 13 seconds Thursday night to take a one-goal lead in at halftime, then turned to its strong defense after intermission and an hour rain delay to beat St. John Paul II Catholic 3-2 in the Class 4A/5A girls’ state soccer finals. The victory puts the Wildcats, coached by Ali Dutton and Mike Jones, in the Class 4A/5A state finals Friday.
    The 25th annual AHSAA State Soccer Championships got underway Thursday with semifinal matches for 1A/3A and 4A/5A divisions at Huntsville’s John Hunt Soccer Complex. Several weather delays moved some matches later than scheduled with the final 4A/5A games still underway at Thursday night.
      St. John Paul II (13-8-2) took a 1-0 lead just nine minutes into the semifinal when senior forward Rachael Castillo scored on an assist from Amelia Dodds and Gwendolyn Adams.  The Wildcats stormed back with senior Sandy Simpson tying the game with a goal set up by teammate Hannah Holmes’ pass at 24 minutes in.  Senior Anna Tully gave Guntersville the lead for good at 25:29 with the Wildcats’ second goal, and Carly Sims made it 3-1 just 34 seconds later. Anna Jones provided the assist.
     Sara Reed scored the Falcons’ final goal at 33:51 in the first half. Dodds picked up her second assist on the goal.
      Goalkeeper Grace Mann had four saves for Guntersville and Alex Pressnell had four saves for St. John Paul II.
       The Class 4A/5A finals, which will be live-streamed by the NFHS Network, is set for 5 p.m. Friday night. The link for the webcast is: http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/ahsaa/. St. Paul’s Episcopal and Helena were still playing Thursday night in the other girls’ semifinal match.

St. Paul’s Episcopal 2, Helena 1
 Senior forward Frances Case scored the go-ahead goal 12 minutes into the second half Thursday night and St. Paul’s Episopal downed Helena 2-1 to move into Friday‘s 5 p.m. finals to face Guntersville.
    The Saints (19-6-1), coached by Brian Thomas, took a 1-0 lead at 7:25 of the first half on junior midfielder Mallory Messer’s goal.  Helena  (7-12-0), coached by Clif Naron, tied the match on a goal by Roby Boatman at 23:33.
     Both teams played outstanding defense the entire match with only four shots on goal by both sides.

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