Rarely does a goal by a Warren County opponent swing the momentum in favor of the Lady Pioneers, but that’s exactly what happened in Tuesday’s District 6-AAA soccer tournament semifinal game.
The White County Warriorettes kicked the ball in their own net to break a scoreless tie, then the Lady Pioneers tacked on seven straight goals to win 8-0 and punch their ticket to the regionals for the third straight year.
The start of Tuesday’s game was exactly the opposite of what coach Todd Willmore and the Lady Pioneer faithful wanted. With the painful memory of the Lady Pioneer volleyball team’s upset loss in the district tournament still fresh, coach Willmore wanted his team to start out fast to avoid any letdown.
Instead, Warren County saw anxiety building for the first 20 minutes as White County kept the game scoreless against the high-octane Lady Pioneers.
The game changed with 18 minutes to play in the first half though as the pressure the Lady Pioneers kept applying finally forced a crack in the Warriorette defense.
Junior Ansley Mullican took a corner kick and the ball flew in front of the Warriorette net. In an attempt to clear the ball, one Warriorette defender jumped to meet the ball. Her kick was errant, as the ball went into the back of the net to make it 1-0 in favor of the home team.
From there, coach Willmore felt like the Lady Pioneers took control.
“I thought we played well from the start in terms of possessing the ball and being patient,” said Willmore. “We didn’t get a quick score, which was in part because they packed 11 back on defense to try to stop us.
“After a while, I think we wore them down and our offense started to score.”
White County had a chance to knot the game less than 60 seconds after the Warriorettes dug themselves a one-goal deficit, but Lady Pioneer keeper Lyndi Dodd made a big play.
A foul in the box gave White County a penalty kick as Dodd was forced to make a play. On the attempt, Dodd didn’t have to move much as the shot came right to the senior keeper. Dodd made the stop and Warren County went back to work on extending the lead.
Senior Kimba Warden made it 2-0 with 10 minutes to play when she took a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that deflected off the keeper’s hands and into the net.
Morgan McCormick scored her first of three goals moments later, then Ansley Mullican made it 4-0 with a goal just before halftime.
McCormick would lead the Lady Pioneers to a rout by completing her second hat trick of the season in the second half. McCormick scored two of the team’s four goals in the final 40 minutes, giving her 23 goals this season.
Mullican, who was named District 6-AAA MVP Monday, added her second goal late, while Ayla Anish got on the board as Warren County won for the third time over White County this season. In the three victories, the Lady Pioneers outscored the Warriorettes 23-1.
The victory guaranteed the Lady Pioneers a berth in the regional tournament, which will begin Tuesday. Warren County has lost to Soddy Daisy on the road in the regionals the past two years, but a win last night in the championship game would give the Lady Pioneers home field in the regionals this season.
Last night’s District 6-AAA championship game between the Lady Pioneers and Coffee County Lady Raiders wasn’t completed at press time.
Check in Sunday’s Southern Standard for game details.