DANDRIDGE – After conceding a goal to West High’s Shelby Pollock in the match’s opening minutes, Jefferson County circled the wagons and held the vaunted Trojans attack scoreless until late in the first half.
Just when it appeared the Lady Patriots would be able to take a confidence boosting 1-nil deficit into the half, they struggled to clear the ball on a corner; the ball came back out to Ashley Foster on the wing where she sent a low cross into traffic in front of the goal.
Sophomore Abigael McGarel pounced, blasting home her first of three goals, and effectively putting the game out of reach. West added three more goals in the second half and took the 5-nil IMAC conference win.
“I told the girls it’s hard to play any offense when you have to defend for 80 minutes,” said Jefferson coach Shawn Way. “They’re actually a more sound and more technical team than we are at this point in the season. It showed.
“The little things that we don’t do well are exploit things like not clearing the ball on set pieces, leaving Shelby open in the first four minutes of the game. These are little things that we’re talking about and trying to close down on.”
West controlled the run of play for most of the match while Jefferson had trouble mounting any serious threats on the attack thanks to a typically tenacious West High defense.
“If we don’t let them shoot, they can’t score and that’s on my defense,” West coach Jennifer Murphy said. “They’re a tough group of kids and they take a lot of pride in snuffing out shots before they can even happen.”
Murphy said senior Erin McGarel provides the necessary leadership for the backline to maintain that mentality.
“Erin, she’s the woman back there. She’s the CEO. She sets everything up for us and moves it forward,” Murphy said. “She has a lot on her shoulders but she’s very experienced and very talented. She is a pretty tough kid.”
Her kid sister’s pretty tough, too.
In fact, Way said, it was Abigael’s first goal that made the difference in the match.
“The backbreaker was the second goal before halftime. Instead of going 2-0, we would much rather go in 1-0 and have a little momentum,” he said. “We only really had one chance in the first half, however going down 2-0 that really takes the wind out of your sails.”
West salted the game away early in the second half when West mounted a nicely formed attack as Pollock found Sara Spain on the wing. Spain’s cross was out of reach for McGarel in the middle, but Foster on the back post collected the pass and re-centered to A. McGarel for the goal.
After Foster had a couple of close calls at banging one home, McGarel picked up an assist with a cross that was just too high for Chelsey Lambert but found Foster’s foot for the 4-nil lead.
To their credit, Jefferson fought to the end. Amy Olvera showed a lot of fight in the middle field and Kate Zander staged a full on battle on the wing with Spain. But in the end, the Lady Patriots couldn’t coalesce into a serious threat.
McGarel capped the scoring with a header off of another set piece for the Lady Trojans who improves to 8-0, 4-0 in conference play.
With the loss, Jefferson falls to 4-3-1, 2-2 in conference.
- By John Gullion, Tribune Managing Editor