By David Rogers. March 17, 2015. BOONE, NC — With dominating 5-0 and 4-0 wins by the varsity and junior varsity, respectively, Watauga women’s soccer took care of business on Tuesday at Jack Groce Stadium against the visiting Freedom High School Patriots (Morganton, NC).
COVER IMAGE: Watauga goalkeeper Mackenzie Nelsen clears a goal-kick upfield. All photos by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
The high, chilly winds may have kept a few dozen spectators huddled in the grandstands, but it they didn’t cool off the off feet of the Pioneers. In the varsity game, senior forward Sierra Hill helped get things started in the first half by settling a pass at her feet in the right center, some 40 yards from the Freedom goal, then lofting a perfect pass to the streaking Heather Byrd up the middle, the junior forward emerging behind the Patriot defenders just in time to slap the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net.
The Pioneers’ senior Abby Carson may be listed on the roster as a defender, but she was all about offense as the brisk overhead winds rushed the clouds away from the setting sun. First she scored the game’s second goal on a penalty kick, easily punching the ball past the Freedom goalkeeper along the right side, then scored yet another goal from a right side free kick. On the second half free kick, the ball made it past the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper and curved just enough to scratch inside the far post and into the net.
Byrd got her second goal of the evening before the first half ended, and sophomore midfielder Brynne Gould rounded out the scoring with an assist from junior defender Kathryn Stevens.
Watauga’s senior goalkeeper Mackenzie Nelson adroitly shut down the few Patriot scoring opportunities that came her way. Once again, Watauga gained dominance by superior ball-handling skills, with one- and two-touch passes frequently finding the open man to keep possession and advancing the ball forward. While the Pioneers missed several open opportunities on the wing to manufacture scoring threats, more often than not they were able to apply pressure in the Patriot half of the field. Whereas on Monday night Alexander Central was able to stay with the Pioneers by exploiting the Taylorsville front line’s speedier athleticism, Freedom did not have that luxury.
In the junior varsity’s 4-0 shutout, Kelsy Boyle was credited with two goals, while Chloe Walczak and Katie Mac notched one apiece. Ms. Mac and Mia Walker were also each credited with an assist on the evening.
“Our girls wanted to come out tonight with a win,” noted Watauga coach Martha Trimble, “especially coming out of last night’s game with a hard tie.”
In the tie vs. Alexander Central, Watauga dominated possession and field position, but had difficulty finding the back of the net for goals. Against Freedom, the goals game early and seemingly often. “This was a little different,” Trimble acknowledged. “We took more outside shots than we did last night against Alexander Central. I don’t think that we played as well, overall, tonight as we did last night, but we played well enough to win. Alexander Central was a little more athletic, especially in their front line and that allowed them to stay with us. Freedom is not as experienced.”
Watauga women’s soccer is slated to play its next game in Lenoir vs. Hibriten. After eight games on the road, the Pioneers return to host Hibriten on April 21st, the first of six consecutive home games to close the 2015 regular season campaign.