by Chip Saye

St. Pius had several scoring chances over the first 33 minutes of the Class AAA girls soccer state championship game but was unable to break through against a tough Blessed Trinity defense.

Amanda Vocelka made sure the early missed opportunities didn’t cost the Golden Lions.

The junior forward dribbled through traffic and scored from about 15 yards out with 6:34 to play to give the Golden Lions a 1-0 victory over Region 6-AAA rival Blessed Trinity at Kennesaw State on Friday.

The victory gave St. Pius (19-1-3) is fourth state championship in five years and its seventh overall. The Golden Lions won consecutive titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011 before losing to Oconee County in the third round last season. Blessed Trinity came up short in its bid for its sixth title in 10 seasons.

St. Pius controlled play throughout the game but particularly in the first half, when it applied relentless pressure that led to at least five good scoring chances.

“We’ve had some chances that we haven’t been able to finish, just maybe getting unlucky or passing it one too many times and getting one too many touches,” St. Pius coach Sara Geiger said. “But slowly the goals have come, and finally it did. It finally paid off.”

Blessed Trinity goalkeeper Meredith Carson was shaken up eight minutes into the game when she came down hard after going up to grab a high ball. She was able to continue, and it was a good thing for the Titans (17-3-1), who rarely got the ball across midfield for the first 40 minutes.

Blessed Trinity opened the season with 11 consecutive shutouts and finished with 15 overall, allowing just eight goals this season.

But St. Pius and goalkeeper Hannah Smith have been stingy, as well. The victory on Friday was the Golden Lions’ 14th shutout of the season and their second of the year against Blessed Trinity, which lost the regular-season matchup 2-0 on April 10.

”It feels good,” Geiger said. “Last year definitely stung a little bit to get knocked out in the quarterfinals. This year we knew that we had the same girls that could come back out and put forth some quality soccer. It feels good to be back where they deserve.”