Morristown West Lady Trojans dominate 7-0
Morristown West’s Megan Horner (14) battles an Elizabethton player for possession of the ball during Thursday’s match.
On nights like Thursday on the pitch at Burke-Toney Stadium, Morristown West’s only real opponent was itself.
This year with a senior-laden team backed by a bevy of talented, hard-working underclassmen, West’s goals are bigger than an easy victory over an overmatched opponent.
If this is the year that West breaks through at a state level, they have to be better than good. They have to be committed to not being satisfied with a victory that looks pretty on a scoreboard.
That’s how, coming off a 13-nil victory earlier in the week and leading 4-nil over Elizabethton at the half, West coach Jennifer Murphy could lecture her team about taking advantage of every opportunity, about not being satisfied with merely being good enough, about not letting up even when you score three goals in the first seven minutes of a match.
“That 3-0 lead, it seems like we get that lead and we put it on cruise control, or take our foot off the pedal,” Murphy said. “I don’t understand what makes them think that three goals can win a game. … If they sneak one in on us, it becomes a whole other soccer game. … We got a little sloppy in the first half, it’s like we played 15 minutes of soccer when 40 minutes ran out on the clock. …
“So halftime was, ‘What if this was the district finals? What if that shot you just missed was the regional final? What if that shot that you missed was Knoxville Catholic last year that we didn’t finish?’”
The message was received loud and clear. Already sitting on a 4-nil lead, the Lady Trojans unleashed a furious bombardment of the Cyclone goal. The second half of the match was played almost exclusively within striking distance of the Elizabethton goal and even if it took the Lady Trojans until midway through the second half to actually bang one home, they showed the kind of intensity that Murphy demanded on their way to the 7-nil win.
Still, at the close of a week in which the Lady Trojans outscored opponents 20-0, Murphy allowed herself a few minutes to appreciate her team’s efforts.
“I expect the unexpected, I guess,” Murphy said. “They can never appease me, but they know that. I always set the bar higher. But 20 goals in one week in two games? I don’t know how many other teams are saying that but that’s still not good enough for me or my girls.”
And how many other teams, playing the best senior class in school history, can field a freshman capable of scoring a hat trick like West’s Sydney Newsome?
“You usually don’t see that with too many freshmen to step up like that,” Murphy said. “She worked hard all summer and she’s got great, great leadership on our team her to follow, I know that.”
That leadership was evident early, when a Lady Cyclone defender tipped a throw-in directly to senior Megan Horner at the top of the box. Horner deftly split a pair of defenders and put the ball home before two minutes had run off the clock.
Facing a three-person back line with a defensive midfielder trying to drop back and help, the Lady Cyclones defense found themselves in the midst of a whirlwind at the start. Less than two minutes after Horner’s goal, senior Shelby Pollock fed the ball to fellow senior Ashley Foster for another goal. In the sixth minute, a shot from distance deflected off a defender’s face right at the goal mouth and the ball ricoheted to Newsome who quickly notched her first goal of the night. Things slowed down from there as the Lady Trojans’ remained mostly in attack position but didn’t get the results due to Cyclone keeper Kaitlyn Puckett’s play.
Finally, in the 33rd minute, pressure from Horner, Chelsey Lambert and Abigael McGarel led to Cyclone defender Sarah Robinson trying to clear a ball away from the goal and instead driving it into the back of the net.
After the half, West was nearly relentless; Puckett was under constant siege as West buzzed shots all around the goal, nearly denting the crossbar in the process.
Finally, in the 60th minute, a hustle play from Lambert helped set up Newsome, who got a clean strike and the 5-nil lead. In the waning minutes, a trio of West players missed a chance at a cross before it found Newsome who buried her third goal of the game.
West finished the scoring when Abigael McGarel set up Sara Spain for one of her signature shake and bake moves, leaving the defense lunging for air the final goal home.
West improves to 4-0 on the season and plays next week at Tennessee High and Sevier County.
-By John Gullion, Tribune Managing Editor