If the Warren County High School girls soccer team is going to improve on last year’s season, it is going to have to do it against a tougher schedule. After one game, it looks like the Lady Pioneers are up to the task of taking on the best the state has to offer.
Warren County dominated Ooltewah 4-1 in both team’s season opener played at Warren County High School. The Lady Owls came to McMinnville as a regional qualifier from District 5-AAA last season, but left as the first victim of the Lady Pioneers’ high-octane offense and superior depth.
The Lady Pioneers led 1-0 at halftime, but a flurry of second-half goals powered Warren County to a blowout win in the team’s first action. Coach Todd Willmore was pleased with the result, along with the showing of his team’s new offensive look.
“Overall I was pleased. I thought the team played well,” said Willmore. “We’ve changed our attack to be more aggressive and in the second half I thought we calmed down and played our game.
“For the first game, we showed some nerves. The girls were very anxious before the game. We settled down in the second half and possessed the ball well and were very aggressive.”
With an attack featuring three players leading the offense, instead of last year’s two-player scheme, Warren County was able to open up the game with an abundance of looks at Ooltewah’s goal.
The Lady Pioneers took 10 shots in the first half, while the Lady Owls only got three looks at Lady Pioneer keeper Lyndi Dodd.
Warren County couldn’t seem to find the target early despite getting many good looks. Junior Ayla Anish finally broke through when she beat the Ooltewah keeper midway through the first half to give the Lady Pioneers a 1-0 lead.
Warren County came out of the half looking to increase its lead. Sophomore Ansley Mullican obliged when she found room on the left side and unleashed a shot from right outside the six-yard box that beat the Ooltewah keeper.
The Lady Pioneers had their lone defensive lapse shortly thereafter. Ooltewah took advantage of Warren County’s aggression by getting behind the defense for a one-on-one situation. Dodd tried to run out to make a play, but she was just seconds late as Ooltewah’s player lofted a shot in for a score.
Mullican got a shot to put Warren County back up two just minutes later when she got the most coveted shot in soccer, a penalty kick.
After a handball by Ooltewah, Mullican lined up and tried to beat the keeper with a shot to the lower-left corner.
The Lady Owls keeper guessed right, making a diving stop on the PK try. Warren County didn’t seem phased though, as the team regrouped on offense and Madison Smartt got a look from the right side and drilled the ball in to give the Lady Pioneers a 3-1 advantage.
Morgan McCormick would make it a three-goal game two minutes later. McCormick received a pass between two defenders, but her speed was too much for the Lady Owls. McCormick raced by both defenders and easily beat the keeper to put Warren County ahead 4-1.
It was all the scoring the Lady Pioneers would need, as coach Willmore’s mass substitutions throughout the game left Warren County with a fresh lineup on the field at the end while the Lady Owls seemed to tire against the relentless pressure.
Warren County celebrated momentarily on the field following the win, but the team shifted its focus quickly to a big district game.
The Lady Pioneers played host to the Cookeville Lady Cavaliers, the defending District 6-AAA champions, last night at Warren County High School soccer field.
Results weren’t available at press time. Check Sunday’s Southern Standard for a full recap of last night’s action.