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Lady Pioneers, Soddy Daisy battle to tie
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If the regular season matchup between the Warren County High School soccer team and Soddy Daisy Lady Trojans is a precursor to things to come in the regional tournament, then a rematch will be a must-see event.
After falling behind 3-0 in the first half, the Lady Pioneers rallied with five goals in the second half to salvage a 5-5 tie  against the top-ranked team from District 5-AAA.
Warren County (12-6-1) got off to a rocky start against the Lady Trojans, something the Lady Pioneers wanted to avoid to their perennial postseason opponent.
Soddy Daisy has ended the Lady Pioneers’ season the past two years in the regional tournament, but Warren County coach Todd Willmore wanted a regular-season look at the Lady Trojans the last two years in hopes of giving his Lady Pioneers a tough test before the district tournament.
Soddy Daisy won the regular-season matchup last year 5-1 and went on to beat Warren County 6-0 in the regional tournament, but Tuesday’s match at Warren County High School soccer complex saw the Lady Pioneers fight back against the Lady Trojans.
Soddy Daisy took an early advantage when a 30-yard shot went over keeper Lyndi Dodd’s head and into the back of the net. A second long-range shot made it 2-0 midway through the first half and the Lady Trojans tacked on their third goal with five minutes remaining in the first half.
Coach Willmore could tell the mood of his team was sour at halftime, but the Lady Pioneers had rallied from a deficit against Cookeville a week prior and their coach knew they could do it again.
“The girls were obviously a little down at halftime,” said Willmore. “We’re falling behind, but we keep fighting and working. It was a much better second half from the girls.”
Junior Ansley Mullican swung the momentum to the home team early in the second half. Mullican, who had a shot bounce off the post in the first half which would’ve gave Warren County an early goal, got an open look from 30 yards and wouldn’t be denied a second time.
Mullican’s deep ball flew over the hands of the Soddy Daisy keeper and landed in the back of the net to put the Lady Pioneers on the board.
Still trailing by two, fellow junior Morgan McCormick made a great individual play to make it a one-goal game. McCormick kept pressure on the defense by trailing the ball, then jumped in front of a pass to get an open look at the goal.
McCormick unleashed a low shot that snuck past the keeper as Warren County made it 3-2 just 10 minutes into the second half.
Scoring really picked up at the 20-minute mark as the two teams scored three goals in a four-minute stretch.
Ayla Anish was able to tie the game when she got a wide-open look off a pass from Mullican. Anish scored as she rushed in from the back side unnoticed and tapped the ball in to tie the game.
Soddy Daisy didn’t wait long to answer. Once action resumed, the Lady Trojans stormed down field and got an open look from the left side to make it 4-3.
The frantic pace barely had time to settle down before McCormick had knotted the game at four. Warren County launched a quick counter attack following the kickoff and McCormick was left with an opportunity to score when she beat two defenders down the left side and carried the ball right to the goal.
Standing two feet away from the keeper, McCormick tried a shot but the keeper dove and knocked it away. McCormick didn’t give up though as she raced to the rebound and knocked it in to tie the game for a second time.
Maddie Smartt gave Warren County the lead with 10 minutes to play, but the Lady Pioneers wouldn’t be able to hold on for the win.
Smartt worked near the 18-yard box on the left side, where the defense started to close in on the senior. Smartt was able to wheel around quickly and try a shot and the well-struck ball beat the Soddy Daisy keeper as the Lady Pioneers completed its comeback to take a 5-4 lead.
The Lady Trojans dominated possession in the final 10 minutes and got the tying score with 5:25 left on the clock. Neither team would get a good look at the end as the two powerhouse programs left the field knowing a rematch could be in store.
Soddy Daisy enters the District 5-AAA tournament as the No. 1 seed after finishing the regular season 6-0 in district play. Warren County also will be a No. 1 seed in tournament play, having finished the year 7-1 in District 6-AAA.
If both teams finish in the top two of their tournaments, the teams could meet again in the regional tournament.
The Lady Pioneers will play host to their first District 6-AAA tournament game Tuesday at 7 p.m. against the winner of a Monday match between Cumberland County and White County. The finals are set to be played Thursday at 7 p.m.