KNOXVILLE — Down 2-nil early in the second half, the Jefferson County girls soccer team could have just rolled over and surrendered in the semifinal round of the District 2-AAA tournament Tuesday.
Instead, the Lady Patriots battled back and took the game down to the wire, before falling 2-1 to Knox West at Bill Wilson Field.
“We left it all on the field tonight,” Jefferson County coach Shawn Way said. “It was a much better effort than when we played 10 days ago (when the Lady Patriots lost 2-0 to Knox West on Oct. 3). We definitely got outplayed the first time we played them, but tonight we brought a lot of fight to them. I’m proud of our girls. We stayed alive and fought. They got one more goal tonight that we did.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Adriana Rehg probably took a piece of the field home with her after the game.
Rehg continually sacrificed her body, diving in front of shots and making big saves to keep the Lady Patriots (7-8-3) within striking distance. Rehg picked up 11 saves on the night and faced down 23 shots.
“She (Rehg) had a busy night,” Way said. “She’s stepped up her play all season long. She’s going to be sore. They kept her busy. We threw a lot at her this season, coming from JV last year to being a varsity starter.”
The game was a stalemate all through the first half, with Jefferson County controlling the action for the opening 20 minutes and Knox West (9-4-3) applying the pressure in the final 20. Still, at the halftime buzzer it was nil-nil.
The second half looked much the same until the 62nd minute when Chloe Casey booted the ball into the right corner of the net from the left side of the box to put the Lady Rebels up 1-nil.
Ibby Petree fired in a goal two minutes later to give Knox West the 2-nil lead with just 16 minutes to go in the game.
“In the first half, the first 20 minutes was ours, the second 20 minutes was theirs,” Way said. “For them to get the goal in the backside, it was a well-played goal. Then they got two goals in a five-minute span and that was a back-breaker.
Facing elimination and a shutout, the Lady Pats turned up the intensity to claw their way back into the game. Maybelin Diaz outdueled Knox West’s goalkeeper one-on-one to put a bulge in the bag and make the score 2-1.
Jefferson County could never again find paydirt, but they continually fired shots and kept the action in front of the Lady Rebels’ goal until the final horn.
“We have a lot of fight in us,” Way said. “We have a lot of determination. They played for their sisters out there. I hate that it ended in a district semifinal. I’d have liked to have had two more games. We fell short of our goal. We have nine seniors on varsity and they all contributed. They really wanted to continue on. They put their hearts and soul in it since June 1. It’s a tough way to go out.”