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‘Really Proud’

Donoho’s girls thank their fans after Friday’s Class 1A-3A state final at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Donoho’s girls thank their fans after Friday’s Class 1A-3A state final at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Huntsville, AL – Donoho’s girls size up another strong season, another Final Four after falling to St. James in Class 1A-3A final.

East Alabama Sports Today

Between an early barrage of St. James goals, a first-half face wind and the head-to-head collision that ended Samantha Wakefield’s day, Donoho’s latest crack at a state soccer final felt like a kick to the gut.

Senior Erin Turley saw something different. Arguably the greatest girls’ soccer player in Calhoun County history saw how the Falcons played the final 65 minutes and how they rallied for Wakefield.

The scoreboard said 3-0, St. James. The Falcons once again lost to a school bigger than itself on the Class 1A-3A enrollment scale, but Turley saw a 19-2-1 finish, including the second Final Four of her career.

The University of Alabama-Huntsville signee saw a big picture, bigger than the one goal that eluded her as a high school player.

“I’m just really proud of the community we’ve built up,” she said while fighting back tears. “Everybody respects us a lot.

“It’s just bittersweet, all of it coming to an end. I just thank God.”

Turley and her teammates very quickly found themselves making the best of things. –At 36:26 1H, St.James scores on a Molly Phillips scored at 36:26 of the first half. State all-time scoring leader Katie Brightwell headed one in at 33:47, and Kaylin Corley found the back of the net at 25:21.

“We came out a little bit slow, I think, a little bit timid,” Donoho coach Tim Melton said. “We’ve read a lot and watched a lot of film on these girls. They’re a strong team, but I think we kind of let it get to our heads.

“We just let them get some goals that we shouldn’t allow. They’re athletic. They’ve got some great basketball players on their team that can get up in the air pretty high, and they just out jumped us and outhustled us for the first 15 minutes.”

Donoho literally found itself staring up quickly, say nothing of running into a brutal face wind. The Falcons would have the wind at their backs in the second half, but play stopped quickly.

Wakefield’s teammates called for trainers as she writhed on the field after a head-to-head collision.

“It was a ball in the air, and then went head to head,” Turley said. “It busted her head open. We’re trying to find out if she’s OK.”

Trainers helped her off as she held a towel on her head, and she did not return to action.

“She’s at the hospital, so she’s in good hands, probably getting some stitches and some treatment,” Melton said. “It really helped us and motivated us some when that happened.”

Donoho spent more time on St. James’ side of the field in the second half and wound up with seven shots to the Trojans’ 13.

A Sophia Sanders shot in the second half appeared to skip off of St. James’ goalie Katie Irving’s hands and edge under the upper-right corner of the goal pipes, but Irving quickly recovered the ball.

It was ruled a save, and Melton got a yellow card arguing the call.

That’s as close as the Falcons came to scoring, but they played 65 minutes of stalemate with the Trojans.

“They didn’t score on us again, but we also picked it up a little bit,” Turley said. “What happened to Samantha just really motivated a lot of people to play for her and play for the seniors.”

Donoho’s girls thank their fans after Friday’s Class 1A-3A state final at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Donoho’s girls thank their fans after Friday’s Class 1A-3A state final at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Friday’s match marked the final match in maroon for Turley, Zoe Christopher and Rory Parks. Their time at Donoho included two Final Fours, including a 3-1 loss to Trinity Presbyterian in the 2021 1A-3A final.

The Falcons have made three Final Fours overall. The 2018 team lost to West Morgan in the semifinals.

Turley is a three-time Calhoun County player of the year. After winning area player-of-the-year honors as a senior, she’s a likely four-time county player of the year.

Melton, who coached Donoho’s boys before this season and has been a round Donoho soccer for eight years, has watched Turley’s career progress. His daughter, Chloe, a freshman, has been a teammate of Turley’s.

“It’s amazing,” Melton said. “Seeing her seventh grade, eighth grade, that was really before a lot of people knew her. She had a little bit better success, stat wise, because people didn’t know who she was.

“Starting ninth and 10th grade, everybody started double teaming her and man guarding her, so now she’s turned into the leading assist player. She kind of changed her game, so we’re excited to see what she’ll do at UAH.”

Photo gallery by Joe Medley

Donoho’s girls played in their third soccer final four, beating Westminster-Oak Mountain 5-0 in Wednesday’s semifinal and falling to St. James 3-0 in Friday’s Final.
Donoho’s girls huddle before their Class 1A-3A title match with St. James on Friday at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.
A stiff wind blew across the John Hunt Park soccer complex during Friday’s state finals, and St. James had the wind at its back while scoring three goals in the first 15 minutes against Donoho in their Class 1A-3A title match.
Donoho’s Anna Kate Wallace goes for the ball as teammate Sophia Sanders and St. James’ Hope McCain look on during Friday’s Class 1A-3A title match at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.
Donoho’s Chloe Melton makes an inbounds pass as Sophia Sanders battles for positionduring Friday’s Class 1A-3A title match at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.
Donoho’s Erin Turley (1) and Zoe Christopher watch Turley’s shot during the first half of Friday’s Class 1A-3A title match at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.
Donoho’s Chloe Melton makes an inbounds pass as Zoe Christopher battles for position during the second half of Friday’s Class 1A-3A title match at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.
Donoho’s Samantha Wakefield is helped off of the field after a head-to-head collision during Friday’s Class 1A-3A title match at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.
Donoho’s Erin Turley blasts a corner kick during Friday’s Class 1A-3A title match at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.
Donoho’s Anna Kate Wallace fires a shot during Friday’s Class 1A-3A title match at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.
Donoho’s Anna Kate Wallace battles for the ball during Friday’s Class 1A-3A title match at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.
Donoho senior Erin Turley breaks down her final team huddle as a high school player after Friday’s Class 1A-3A title match at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.. She will play for the University of Alabama-Huntsville next season.
Donoho’s girls, the 2024 Class 1A-3A state runner up.

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