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Panthers’ unbeaten run culminates with WIAA Division 2 crown

(Photo courtesy of @wiaawistate on Twitter)

An undefeated regular season did not earn Oregon (Wis.) the top overall seed in Wisconsin’s Division 2 state playoffs. But no matter, the Panthers knocked off top-seeded Whitefish Bay 1-0 in Saturday’s final to earn their third state title.

Katelyn Studebaker scored the game-winning goal in the second half, and the Panthers notched their 21st shutout in their 24th game of the season.

It’s the Panthers’ second title in four years and propels them to No. 5 in the JWS soccer rankings.

With all the high school spring soccer seasons wrapped up, these rankings encompass all schools that played in the spring.

1. Westminster (Ga.), 19-1

The Wildcats continued their dominance with a seventh consecutive state championship, outscoring opponents 148-11. Westminster is loaded with talent; North Carolina commit Evelyn Shores is one of five players committed to a college in the Power 5 conferences.

2. Grandview (Colo.), 17-1-2

The Wolves beat the top two seeds in the semifinal and final to claim the coveted 5A state title, avenging their sole regular-season loss in the process.

3. Yorktown (Va.), 22-1-1

The Patriots won their second state championship in three seasons behind a shutdown defense that posted 18 shutouts and an explosive attack led by South Carolina signee Shay Montgomery, who finished with 25 goals and 10 assists.

4. St. Thomas Aquinas (Kan.), 17-0-2

The Saints tested themselves against the best, beating 6A state champion Blue Valley West in the regular season, and it paid off with a dominant postseason run to a second straight 5A crown.

5. Oregon (Wis.), 23-0-1

The Panthers last conceded a goal on May 11.

6. Briar Woods (Va.), 20-0-2

Virginia Tech-bound Taylor Price netted 32 goals and had 15 assists, as the Falcons rebounded from last year’s state championship defeat to win it all this spring.

7. Gretna (Neb.), 21-0

The Dragons outscored opponents 118-6 to capture a second consecutive state title. They are 42-1 over that stretch.

8. Fort Zumwalt South (Mo.), 26-1

Another repeat champion, the Bulldogs rebounded from a regular-season loss to reel off 15 wins to end the season.

9. Triad (Ill.), 25-1

The Knights’ unbeaten streak ended at 41 games, but that was just a temporary speed bump en route to their fourth state title in 11 years.

10. Lassiter (Ga.), 16-0-4

The Trojans dedicated their state title to Libby Rountree, a rising senior soccer player who died last summer in a car crash.

11. Searcy (Ark.), 21-0-1

The Lions gave up just one goal all season en route to back-to-back state championships.

12. St. Dominic (Mo.), 23-3

Despite three regular-season losses, the Crusaders never lost faith and secured a third consecutive state title.

13. Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), 16-6-2

Another team that started slowly, Cardinal Gibbons played its best soccer at the right time, winning the state championship in penalty kicks.

14. Dallas Center (Iowa), 22-0

With a plus-95 goal difference, the Mustangs secured a state championship and a perfect season.

15. Wando (S.C.), 19-1

The Warriors have built a perennial powerhouse in South Carolina, winning the 12th state title in program history.

16. Metea Valley (Ill.), 22-2-1

The Mustangs won the first state championship in program history in a penalty shootout and ended the season on a 14-game winning streak.

17. West Forsyth (Ga.), 18-3

An overtime win propelled the Wolverines to back-to-back state titles in Georgia’s highest classification.

18. James Island (S.C.), 20-1-2

A year after capturing its first state crown, the Trojans did it again. Their sole defeat was a 1-0 loss to Wando.

19. Valor Christian (Colo.), 16-1

The Eagles fell just short of a perfect season with a double-overtime loss to Grandview in the state semifinals.

20. Homewood (Ala.), 20-2-2

After losing in the state final last year, the Patriots captured the program’s second state championship this spring.

21. South County (Va.), 20-1-1

The Stallions picked a bad time to suffer their first loss of the season, falling in the state semifinals and missing out on a chance for back-to-back state titles.

22. Ardrey Kell (N.C.), 25-2-1

Ardrey Kell lost the state championship in penalty kicks to Cardinal Gibbons, bringing its record in state title games to 0-4, but the Knights were otherwise brilliant in their run to the state final.

23. Bloomfield Hills (Mich.), 15-2-3

The Black Hawks knocked off previously unbeaten Northville in penalty kicks to win the state crown.

24. Blue Valley West (Kan.), 16-3-1

Despite some regular-season stumbles, the Jaguars showed their skill in the postseason, outscoring their semifinal and final opponents combined by 7-1.

25. Deer Creek (Okla.), 17-3

The Antlers secured the seventh state championship in program history but first since 2015, winning the final in penalty kicks.

Phillip Suitts is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has worked at a variety of outlets, including The Palm Beach Post and Southeast Missourian, and done a little bit of everything from reporting to editing to running social media accounts. He was born in Atlanta but currently lives in wintry Philadelphia. Follow Phillip on Twitter @PhillipSuitts.

Nelly Korda ties LPGA record with fifth-straight tournament win

Nelly Korda of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship
Nelly Korda poses with her trophy after acing her fifth-straight tour title at The Chevron Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25-year-old American pro golfer Nelly Korda secured her spot in LPGA history on Sunday, notching her fifth-straight title at this weekend's Chevron Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Ranked No. 1 in the world by Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda joins Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sörenstam (2005) as just the third LPGA player to rack up five consecutive tour wins. She is also the third No. 1-ranked player to capture The Chevron Championship victory since the rankings debuted in 2006, accompanied by Lorena Ochoa and Lydia Ko.

The Florida native shot three-under 69 in Sunday's final, besting Sweden's Maja Stark despite Stark's valiant come-from-behind attempt in the 18th. Korda finished with a four-day total of 13-under 275, celebrating her two-stroke win by cannonballing into Poppie's Pond, much to the crowd's delight. She left The Club at Carlton Woods with $1.2 million from an overall purse of $7.9 million.

It wasn't long ago that the two-time major champion's current winning streak seemed unimaginable. After maintaining her No. 1 position for 29 weeks, Korda underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm in 2022. She returned to the course not long after, but failed to win a single tournament in 2023 before seeing a surge in form during the first four months of 2024. As of today, she hasn't lost a tournament since January.

Korda will attempt a record sixth-straight win at next week's JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, where she'll vie for a cut of the $3.75 million purse.

Smith and Swanson shine in action-packed NWSL weekend

sophia smith celebrates after a goal for the portland thorns
Sophia Smith's 27th-minute goal paved the way for Portland's first win of the season. (Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports)

USWNT regulars Sophia Smith and Mallory Swanson furthered their cases for Olympic inclusion with their respective club victories on Saturday and Sunday.

After a roller coaster of a week that saw former Thorns head coach Mike Norris reassigned and a flurry of last-minute roster reshufflings as Friday's trade window closure loomed, the NWSL sprung to life over the weekend with standout performances from ninth-place Portland and third-place Chicago, among others.

After her blocked attempt at goal set up a volleying sixth-minute opener from veteran Christine Sinclair — now the only player in history to record a goal in all 11 NWSL seasons — Smith swiftly netted her own in the 27th minute off a breakaway run that eluded Houston's backline. The goal represented Smith's third of the season as well as her 35th for the Thorns, ultimately leading to the home side's first win of the season in a 4-1 routing of the Dash.

But that wasn't Smith's only stat of the evening. The star forward also lapped former Chicago Red Star Sam Kerr to become the youngest player to reach 50 NWSL goal contributions across all games, chalking up 40 goals and 10 assists at the age of 23 years and 254 days.

"Obviously it feels good to get a win," said Smith in a post-match press conference. "But this is the standard the Thorns have always had. So a win is great, but a win is the expectation — we're hungrier than ever after the way we started."

170 miles up the road, Lumen Field similarly showcased some promising Olympic prospect footwork on Sunday. In Chicago's 2-1 victory over the lagging 13th-place Seattle Reign, striker Mallory Swanson racked up an impressive counterattack assist on fellow forward Ally Schlegel's fourth-minute goal. Swanson went on to find the back of the net herself before halftime, lacing an explosive ball into the top corner in the 31st minute, her second of the season after returning from a lengthy sidelining injury.

Speaking of injuries, fellow USWNT favorites Alex Morgan and Tierna Davidson were not as fortunate as their national squad teammates this weekend. Each exited their club matches early, Morgan with an ankle knock in San Diego's loss to Orlando and Davidson with an apparent hamstring incident early on in Washington's win over Gotham.

LSU takes first-ever NCAA gymnastics title

Kiya Johnson of the LSU Tigers reacts after winning the national championship during the Division I Women's Gymnastics Championships
Gymnast Kiya Johnson celebrates LSU's win at the NCAA Division I Women's Gymnastics Championships. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

LSU came out on top at the 2024 NCAA women's gymnastics championship in Fort Worth on Saturday, besting Cal, Utah, and Florida to capture their first-ever title.

The Tigers' win was far from a landslide. LSU took the first rotation handily thanks to 2024 All-Around winner Haleigh Bryant's team-leading 9.9375 backed by four additional 9.9+ scores from her teammates. But Utah then responded with three strong beam performances of their own, causing the Red Rocks to slide confidently into second place by the end of the second rotation.

By the halfway point, all four teams fell within .288 points of one another before Utah overtook the pack with a dominant floor showing after three rotations. LSU then went on to ace the beam event with Konnor McClain's meet-leading 9.9625 score, coming away with the highest collective score ever awarded to the event in NCAA championship history. The achievement propelled the Tigers to victory, ensuring them the title after the final rotation.

"This team is full of individuals that have incredible character and integrity and love for each other and all the things you hear from coaches when they sit at a podium like this in a moment of victory, but I promise you it's a real thing," said LSU coach Jay Clark in a post-meet press conference. "I'm just so happy for them."

Contributing to Saturday's atmosphere of excitement was the absence of last year's champion and this year's heavily favored Oklahoma Sooners. Hot off earning the highest team score in NCAA history just last month, the top-ranked Norman squad suffered a shocking loss in the semifinals, where five major mistakes contributed to a third-place finish and a season-low team score of 196.6625.

With Oklahoma out, it was truly anyone's game.

"Every team was out there fighting for their lives — all four teams, it could have gone any of four ways out there," Clark told reporters. "As much as I feel for what happened to Oklahoma in the semifinals, I think it made for a championship that became so packed with emotion because every team out there believed they could do it. It was just tremendous."

LSU is now the eighth program in the sport's history to earn an NCAA women's gymnastic championship.
They share the honor with Georgia, Utah, UCLA, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, and Michigan.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

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