This time last year, East Hamilton won its second consecutive District 6-A/AA girls' soccer title.
On Thursday night, the Lady Hurricanes claimed that championship for the third and final time.
Next year's reclassification will move into East Hamilton into Class AAA, but for now, the Lady Hurricanes are celebrating a 3-0 home victory over Arts & Sciences in their final season as a Class A/AA team.
"It was important for the girls to defend their title," East Hamilton coach John Millard said. "This will be our last title in this district, and we wanted to go out on our own terms. They're excited and ready to move forward."
Lauren Thomas helped keep the Lady Hurricanes moving forward on Thursday against the Lady Patriots. The match remained scoreless until the 29th minute, when Thomas seized an opportunity to send a ball past CSAS keeper Katie Foster.
In the 59th minute, Thomas scored again on a direct kick to put her team up 2-0.
"I thought Lauren had a huge game for us," Millard said. "She always looks for opportunities to get forward out of the back, and she gave us a lift today. It takes a huge load off when you get that first goal, and I thought our play increased and our confidence grew as the match continued."
The Lady Hurricanes, now 14-3-1, added an insurance goal when Chandler Smith scored in the 73rd minute, and keeper Megan Lively and the East Hamilton defense preserved the shutout.
East Hamilton next advances to a Region 3-A/AA semifinal, which the Lady Hurricanes will host on Tuesday against the District 5-A/AA runner-up. The region final will be held on Thursday, with the finalists advancing to next Saturday's state sectionals. Sectional winners qualify for the state tournament, which is where the Lady Hurricanes hope to end their season.
"We would love to get back there," Millard said. "From the beginning of the season to today, I feel like we've gotten better and better each week. They're continuing to work hard and do all the things we're asking them to do."
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org