GEORGETOWN — Sacred Heart had the luxury of hiding in the middle of the pack last season on its way to a state title.
"We were actually able to fly under the radar a little bit," Coach Chris Moore said. "This year from the beginning to the end we had to hold that No. 1 spot. It does add a lot of pressure."
But the Valkyries seemed to handle the pressure of being No. 1 from the pre-season to the post-season, and they showed why they were ranked that way with a 2-0 state championship victory over Highlands Saturday at Georgetown College's Toyota Stadium.
"It's a really amazing experience just to be a part of something like this," said Lucy Chauvin, who scored the Valkyries' first goal. "Back to back is even better. It's so exciting."
Getting the first goal was important for Sacred Heart, which outshot the Bluebirds 3-1 in the first half.
"That was really big for us, to get a goal early and get the momentum going," said Chauvin, a sophomore.
The championship was the Valkyries' third and their second straight. They have not lost to a Kentucky opponent all season. Their last loss to a state foe was on Sept. 22 of last year against Lexington Catholic.
In this post-season, Sacred Heart has outscored opponents 36-4, but Highlands didn't make it easy for the Valkyries, who also got a goal from junior Jenna Price in the finals.
"Highlands played us better than anybody this season," Moore said. "They came out with a lot of heart and had a great game plan. It caused us a lot of problems."
While SHA outshot the Bluebirds in the first half, Highlands responded in the second half, outshooting Sacred Heart 4-2.
"We gave up two soft goals, unfortunately, and couldn't find the back of the net on several good opportunities," Highlands Coach Nina Kearns said. "That's the way soccer plays out. Sometimes you just don't have it, and we didn't tonight."
Kearns was proud of what Highlands did all season.
"This is by no means a small achievement to make it this far," she said. "We've been here three times in four years, and we couldn't be prouder."
Moore was impressed by the Bluebirds' effort, but he also was pleased with how his team responded.
"Few teams have pressured us in that way," he said. "It was great for our defenders to back it up and prove themselves in that way. They've done it all season long."
The SHA defense recorded its 17th shutout of the season.
"In the end, our girls just showed the determination and character that we've asked for all season long," Moore said. "I'm very, very proud of them."
Sacred Heart 2, Highlands 0
Goals—SHA: Lucy Chauvin, Jenna Price. Goalkeepers—SHA: Maddie Peabody; H: Laura Bush.
Records—Sacred Heart 21-1-3, Highlands 18-4-4.