All good things must come to an end. The Warren County High School soccer team found that out Saturday at Siegel High School.
The remarkable season by the Lady Pioneers came to an end in substate as the Siegel Lady Stars won 3-0 to advance to the state tournament.
Warren County (15-8-1) came into the season with the ultimate goal of advancing to the state tournament and, with a team loaded with talented upperclassmen, the Lady Pioneers made a strong push.
Winning the District 6-AAA tournament and beating the Ooltewah Lady Owls in the regional tournament left the Lady Pioneers one win away from the lofty goal. The powerhouse program from Murfreesboro ended the Warren County season with a suffocating defensive performance though.
Siegel didn’t allow a shot on goal by Warren County in the substate matchup, something no opponent did during the regular season as the Lady Pioneers averaged four goals a game.
Coach Todd Willmore gave plenty of credit to the Lady Stars, who will be continuing their season in the state tournament tonight.
“Siegel was a technically strong team from top to bottom,” said Willmore. “We were unable to exploit any weaknesses they might have. I thought we played well in the first half, keeping it at 1-0 and stopping their attacks.”
While Warren County couldn’t keep the Lady Star keeper Dale Steinagle busy, Lady Pioneer Lyndi Dodd spent most of her night saving shots in goal.
Dodd faced several attacks from the Lady Stars, who kept pressure on the Warren County defense all game with waves of fresh players.
Dodd made some spectacular saves, but she couldn’t stop them all as the Lady Pioneers saw Siegel take an early advantage and never relinquish the lead.
The Lady Stars scored with 15 minutes to play in the first half on a play set up by Steinagle. After a pass from Ansley Mullican trickled deep into the Siegel zone, Steinagle rushed up to grab the ball before Morgan McCormick could make a play.
Steinagle took two dribbles, then punted the ball 50 yards to Cheyenne Moultry.
Moultry, who has scored 14 postseason goals for Siegel, was able to outrun Taylor Mullican and the rest of the Lady Pioneer defense to get an open look. She put the shot past Dodd, making it 1-0 at halftime.
Moultry was responsible for the second Siegel goal as well. With 18 minutes to play, the Lady Stars controlled action near the Warren County net and Moultry began throwing her weight around.
Moultry was able to overpower the Lady Pioneer defense during a loose ball and her header beat Dodd to give Siegel a two-goal cushion in the late stages of the game.
McCormick and Ansley Mullican, who combined to score over 50 goals this season, were surrounded every time they touched the ball, giving Warren County little chance of making a late comeback.
Any chance of a rally was squashed when Darby Phillips scored with 11 minutes left, giving the Lady Stars a 3-0 lead.
Coach Willmore thought the speed of Siegel and its suffocating defense on Warren County’s two top scorers made all the difference.
“They took us completely out of our game,” said Willmore. “It seemed like we got frustrated and stopped doing the things we had done all season. After the second goal, we were gassed and didn’t have the energy to fight back at the end.
“All and all, our play was good but I think it gave us a look to where we need to be to be able to compete consistently.”
It was a tough way to end the season for Warren County, especially one that saw the Lady Pioneers capture the District 6-AAA regular-season and tournament titles and win their first regional game under coach Willmore.
While the Lady Pioneers fell one game short of their goal, coach Willmore thought the things his team accomplished made this season an incredible success.
“Winning and going to the state tournament would have been icing on the cake,” said Willmore. “The girls seemed to enjoy themselves and they were a fun group to coach and be a part of. I have no reservations looking back on the year. It was really fun.”
Eight senior starters played their final games as Lady Pioneers Saturday night. Mullican and McCormick, who have each been named District 6-AAA MVP during their careers, will return to lead the Lady Pioneers as seniors next season.