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Paideia Soccer Program Claims Fifth State Championship in Last 10 Years

This story originally appeared in our May 2023 print edition.
Courtesy of LJ Long
The boys soccer team has now won five state championships in the last 10 years.

The Paideia Varsity boys’ season was an astonishing success. While their goal was always a state championship, going to the game itself is a dream come true for some of the players. Then on the evening of Tuesday, May 2, the boys won after penalty kicks against Atlanta International School in the state championship with a score of 1-1 (5-4 after penalties). Paideia had allowed a goal just eight minutes in, but about 10 minutes later, co-captain Noah Armour ’25 faked a free kick to allow co-captain Sammy Kodish ’24 to tie the game. Throughout the rest of regulation and extra time, there was no scoring. Then in penalties, Armour, Kodish, Lucas Verani ’23, co-captain Spencer Furman ’23, and co-captain William Lowance ’23 went five for five to give the Pythons their fifth state championship.

After losing to AIS in the quarter-finals last season, the boys avenged that loss in the state championship game this year. In the regular season, the Pythons were victorious 1-0 in their region game against the Eagles. It was a close game, but a counter attack which resulted in a goal by Tebarek Hillo ’23 gave the Pythons an important win.

However, on Apr. 28, a Paideia striker was given a controversial red card in the semi-final game against Armuchee High School. During a tense second half which included alleged racially-charged comments, the Pythons scored on a rebound, and the player’s celebration in front of the Armuchee bench warranted a red card according to the substitution official. Since the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) does not overturn red cards, he was not allowed to play in the state championship game despite attempts from various community members to have the call reversed. The team made shirts for all students who came out to the state championship game which read, “No Room for Racism,” the English Premier League’s motto for their anti-racism pledge.

Despite being down a star striker, the Pythons’ mentality going into the championship was to take it moment by moment. The Pythons took the field on Tuesday, May 2 with Armour, Nayan Dodge ’24, and Eli Willingham ’24 in the Pythons attack, and more players than usual in the back, including Liam McCarthy ’24, Lowance, Furman, and Kenji Wu ’23. Ahead of the game, co-captain Furman said “We’ll be ready to play. Everyone remembers the feeling after losing to them in the quarter-finals last year, and [the incident in the semifinals] will only motivate us more. It’s revenge time.” And indeed it was.

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Daniel Sommerfeld
Daniel Sommerfeld, Online Editor

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