Clarksville, TN – The battle to advance to State between the Clarksville High Lady Wildcats ( 19-3-2) and the Franklin Lady Rebels (16-2-5) in sectional soccer play Saturday night at Hilda J. Richardson field came down to one kick … and Lady Rebel Liza Hardin made it.
In the 75th minute, the score was tied 1-1 and the Lady Rebels executed a corner kick. The kick was well placed in front of the Lady Wildcats goal, but the defenders were able to deflect it from the net. However, the Lady Wildcats failed to gain control of the ball deep in their own territory.Continuing to press Hardin eventually received a pass 15-yards in front of the net amid several Lady Wildcat defenders. Instead of stopping and settling the pass, Hardin turned and kicked the ball toward the net before it hit the ground.
The ball floated with a high arc over Lady Wildcat defenders, dropped under the crossbar, over the outstretched hands of the jumping goalkeeper, Melia Correa, and into the net.
Despite their best efforts, the Lady Wildcats failed to make another goal in the remaining minutes.
“We haven’t been taking shots like we should. We told them to start shooting more from outside,“ Lady Rebels head coach Jimmy Burchett said. “She came in and shot one from outside and it went in.”
The goal gave the Lady Rebels the 2-1 victory, advancing them to play at State, a trip they have made several times before except for last year.
“It feels great. After one year of not being there, it kind of burned in our stomach for a year,“ Burchett said. “We thought we had a good team last year. We came up here and the reverse happened to us, we got beat 2-1. So I think for 12 months this has been in our gut a little bit. Its been burning there. If we had another chance I thought our energy would be up and it really was.”
The Lady Wildcats defeated Hendersonville three days ago to capture their second regional title in a row. The were confident about playing the Lady Rebels on their home field and head coach Jeff Jordan believed it was just bad luck they did not advance further.
“I am not disappointed in this game. It was just unlucky,“ Jordan said. “That’s the way soccer happens. it’s a bad bounce or an unlucky goal.”
The teams were equally matched. The Lady Rebels had a slight edge in stats with six shots on goal and five corner kicks. The Lady Wildcats generated five shots on goal and had four corner kicks.
The Lady Rebels set the tone with an aggressive push from the initial kickoff. Within 30 seconds of the start of the game, they had a corner kick which resulted in their first goal. Meredith Slessman got the clean up goal.
“It was just a mistake,“ Jordan said. “The ball was served into the box. It should have been handled and it wasn’t. Then they shot on an empty net and got an easy goal.”
The quick score put the pressure on the Lady Wildcats. However, solid defense deflected their attacks the rest of the half.
The Lady Wildcats redoubled their offensive efforts in the second half. Ella Bagget, who had been on the prowl looking to score, finally got her chance in the 54th minute.
She sped by her defender from the corner, and found the net from short range to tie the score 1-1.
“They have got three really good offensive players,“ Burchett said. “We let one get through a little bit on us. Other than that, I thought we pretty well shut down their attacks. We just kept pressure on their back and lady luck, God, whoever helped that fall in off of the keepers head.”
Jordan was pleased with his teams effort in the game.
“One touch is sometimes the difference between winning the game and losing. “