Toppling the top seed and one of the best teams in the state was going to require the Lady Pioneers getting good bounces. Instead, every break went away from Warren County in the district semifinals.
Cookeville ended the Lady Pioneers’ season Tuesday, winning 3-1 on its home turf. District MVP Katie Lynch finished with a hat trick for the Lady Cavaliers, who scored twice in the final five minutes of the first half to seize control.
“We couldn’t get a break in the first half. Nothing bounced our way,” said Warren County coach Todd Willmore. “I thought we played really well defensively. They got a score late, then we kind of let down and they got another goal with around 40 seconds to go.”
Warren County nearly changed the momentum before halftime though. After surrendering two goals to the district MVP, the Lady Pioneers made a late rush with time dwindling. Warren County played a cross into the box, which was tapped in for what looked to be the first goal allowed by Cookeville since Sept. 13.
Instead, the goal was waved off as officials determined the ball crossed the line after time had expired in the half. It was a gut shot to the Lady Pioneers, who desperately needed some momentum.
“That changed the complexion of the game. Scoring at halftime makes it a different game. They’ve shut out 11-12 teams, we gave them a run,” said Willmore.
The Lady Pioneers did snap Cookeville’s six-game shutout streak in the second half. Freshman Katie Toney was taken down in the box, one of many times the Lady Cavaliers knocked around the talented Lady Pioneer scorer.
The takedown drew a whistle and gave Warren County a penalty kick. Toney promptly buried the shot, her 19th goal in her debut season.
Warren County had several chances late, but Lynch was last person to score.
Cookeville’s top option got a free run at the Lady Pioneer goal midway through the second half, when the Lady Pioneers thought perfect defensive alignment left Lynch offsides. No flag flew, and Lynch beat Rachel Stewart to give her team a 3-1 lead it would hold until the end.
“I thought our defense held a high line, but they never raised the flag. She was one-on-one and she’s a great scorer,” said Willmore.
It was tough way to lose, especially with the effort displayed down the stretch.
“We had some chances, but couldn’t get it done. The effort was there though. We played well enough to beat them, but didn’t get the breaks,” said Willmore.
The match proved to be the final game for two seniors, Stewart and Gwynie Simpson. Contributors over the course of their career, Willmore and the rest of the Lady Pioneers were devastated to lose the captains.
“Gwynie and Rachel are great leaders,” said Willmore. “Our team loves both of those girls. It’s a testament to them. They’re good leaders and good people. I loved having them the last four years.”
All-district honors were given out Thursday at the championship game in Cookeville. More information on local award winners will be in Sunday’s Southern Standard.