Photo/James Pugh

At this point, calling Sacred Heart’s girls soccer program just a dynasty might not work. More like an empire.

Five of the last six years, the Lady ‘Saders have ruled Class 1A/2A/3A. Their most recent state title came Saturday afternoon with a 2-1 overtime win over St. Andrews. It’s the program’s third-straight state championship.

“It gets better and better and better and better,” Sacred Heart coach Joe ‘Papa’ Falla said. “Today, I feel like I’m 35-years-old. I feel like I’m about 6-foot tall. I know I’m not, but that’s what I’m feeling.”

That feeling didn’t come easy against the Lady Saints, who led 1-0 at halftime of Saturday’s match. Falla’s team didn’t panic though. Instead, they took his advice to heart.

“My message to them was that we always have been 2-1 or 2-0 down,” Falla said. “That’s nothing new for us. I said, ‘Let’s go and play our game, and we’re going to get it down’.”

Sacred Heart tied the match up at 1-1 in the 49th minute on a free kick goal from Gabby Falla. Four minutes into the first overtime period, they took the lead on a goal from Gabby’s sister, Gracie.

“First, I looked at the time. I’m thinking 48 seconds, maybe,” Gracie Falla said of her goal. “I was wide open, and I just looked over and nobody was there. Put it in space and finish it.”

Couldn’t have done it much better, said her coach and grandfather.

“That’s a World Cup shot,” Joe Falla said. “That’s all I can tell you.”

The comeback nearly left Falla speechless. Then, with tears rolling down his eyes, he tried to put the win and the program’s fifth title into words.

“My team is fighters, and they never quit,” Falla said. “They got Papa’s attitude. They never quit, and that’s why we’re champions again. The feelings, oh my goodness, it’s going to take a while for me to really accept everything that happened.

“I owe everything to my girls.”

St. Joseph 4, Sacred Heart Crusaders 2

Sacred Heart’s season came to an end with a loss in the Class 1A/2A/3A Championship on Saturday. The Crusaders fell behind to St. Joseph, 3-1, more than halfway through the second half and were not able to fully recover down the stretch.

Crusader head coach Joe Falla, Jr. summed up the loss with ease.

“It’s called effort. That’s what I told them,” Falla said. “You can’t show up on a big stage like that and clam up and freeze up. This game today was all about effort. They wanted it more than we did. We were looking for someone to rescue us. Not today.”

Shortly after St. Joseph took a 1-0 lead in the first half, Sacred Heart answered with a goal off the foot of Miller Hayden. The Bruins responded with two goals in taking that aforementioned 3-1 lead.

With about six minutes remaining, Sacred Heart pulled to within one on a goal from Payton Ware, only to allow St. Joseph to tack on their fourth of the game in sealing the win.

Ware, Hayden and plenty others will return next season for Sacred Heart. Falla says they will all be better for what they experienced in Saturday’s loss.

“They’re gonna go home and think about it,” Falla said. “They’re going to absorb it, digest it, and we’re going to learn something from it today. And we’ll be back.

“We’ll be back, and I promise you we’ll come with a better effort and a little better attitude.”