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Starting strong
Parker Smith battles for the ball against Tullahoma in Monday's matchup. Warren County won its season opener 2-0. - photo by Jeffery Simmons

A chilly night didn’t stop the Pioneers from starting the season red hot Monday.

The Warren County High School soccer team had a splendid showing in its home debut, topping Tullahoma 2-0 on opening night. Caleb Hines and Gabriel Cordova each scored for the Pioneers, who are already halfway to their win total from 2022 after one game.

Coach August Palombo knew last year’s season would be about laying groundwork for the future. That foundation, albeit one constructed as Warren County took its lumps, seems to be in place in Year 2. 

Palombo saw his team do all the little things against the Wildcats, executing at a high level in frigid temperatures to get a huge win. 

“I had full confidence in the boys to adapt, improvise and overcome,” said Palombo, who had to reshuffle his lineup some Monday after the team lost starting keeper Jonas Bailey to an injury in last week’s preseason game.

Logan Cowans showed he was more than capable between the pipes for the Pioneers, recording a shutout in his first start. Cowans set the tone in the first four minutes, shutting down what looked to be an opportune scoring chance for the Wildcats. 

Tullahoma was able to catch the Pioneers in transition, launching a counterattack that led to Cowans rushing out to smother an attack at the top of the box. Cowans made the initial stop on a diving save, then knocked down the rebound try as well to give Warren County some early momentum.

“We played two in JV and went in with a plan to give them each a half in varsity, but we rode the hot hand in terms of how Logan was playing in the first half,” said Palombo, who also had Gabe Morin ready to go in net.

The Pioneer defense held the fort through the first half, keeping the game locked into a scoreless stalemate going into halftime. Warren County’s offense would answer the call in the second half.

Caleb Hines helped ease the burden on the Pioneer defense with his first goal in a Warren County uniform. The former Covenant Lion was able to traverse through the Tullahoma defense to start the scoring for the Pioneers in 2023, driving a low shot past the Wildcat keeper in the 59th minute.

Cordova made it 2-0 in the waning minutes, showing up in the right place at the right time on a loose ball in the box in the 77th minute. 

Warren County will get the enjoy the rest of spring break without playing anymore games, but the Pioneers will return to action with a big test next week. The group will be traveling to Cookeville next Tuesday, March 21 for its annual clash with the Cavaliers. 

Action is set to kick off at 6:30 p.m.