There wasn’t a lot of strategy needed for the Lady Pioneers to get back to their winning ways. Warren County just had to stop playing Murfreesboro teams and start facing rivals.
The Lady Pioneers snapped a four-game losing streak Thursday, topping district foe Coffee County 3-1 on the road. Freshman Jayla Garibaldi continued her brilliant premier with the program, scoring twice in the first half to help Warren County to its third victory. Senior Bekah Jackson added a goal and two assists, another exceptional performance for the reigning all-state selection.
Warren County (3-4) was looking to forget tough losses to a quartet of ‘Boro schools (Central Magnet, Oakland, Rockvale and Stewarts Creek) when it made the short trip to Manchester. The Lady Pioneers found instant success against the Lady Raiders, taking a 3-0 lead by halftime and regaining their confidence along the way.
“It felt great to start our district schedule with a win,” said first-year coach Kimberly Smith. “We had a tough two weeks, so the girls definitely needed this win. It’s encouragement to keep pushing and working hard.”
Jackson made sure the Lady Pioneers struck first. The splendid senior, who is having another all-state level season, took aim at the entire Coffee County defense in the first 10 minutes, forcing her way toward the net. Bobbing and weaving through traffic, Jackson was able to get off a rocket shot to put her squad up 1-0.
Attention from the defense was swiftly turned to Jackson following her run, leaving other Lady Pioneers a chance to find open zones. Jackson also took advantage of the double and triple teams, deftly drawing defenders her way before dropping off passes to open shooters.
Garibaldi was the beneficiary of two beautiful looks from Jackson in the first half, both of which the freshman paid off with goals. By halftime, Warren County was floating on air and Coffee County was scrambling for answers.
The Lady Raiders managed to get on the board in the second half, but the Lady Pioneers weren’t going to let their rivals claw back into the game. With a senior captain on the back end, Warren County shut the door late to get its first district win.
“Savannah (Winfree) led the way with the back four. They had several opportunities, but she was able to stay with them and win the ball back,” said Smith about her star defensive senior.
A new-look lineup also helped Thursday. With some players out while dealing with injuries, coach Smith had to shuffle her squad to maximize its potential. Lesley Mirafuentes stepped inside to center back and had a great game, finding instant chemistry with Marlee Sliger as she patrolled the outside back.
Coach Smith also praised her team’s work through the middle for the win. “Our midfield also did a good job of defending their area so that a lot of balls didn’t get to the back line,” said Smith.
Warren County will try to keep the momentum this week when it faces two more district foes at home. The Lady Pioneers are slated to host Shelbyville Tuesday and Franklin County Thursday. Both matches will begin at 6 p.m.