Battling down to the wire, a country rivalry soccer match between Walker Valley and Bradley Central was filled with emotional highs and lows Tuesday evening.While in a stalemate at halftime, neither …
Battling down to the wire, a country rivalry soccer match between Walker Valley and Bradley Central was filled with emotional highs and lows Tuesday evening.
While in a stalemate at halftime, neither side was pleased with its first half efforts. Both Nathan Brown and Savannah Edwards sought more out of their talented District 5-AAA squads.
Playing for the breaks, it was Lady Mustang sophomore Macy Gibson who provided the difference in the hard fought 2-1 victory as she was in the right place at the right time.
A corner kick by Ashley Eulo was kicked around in front and found Gibson, who rolled the decisive score into the back left net just past a diving keeper in the 66th minute.
"Macy had a few chances earlier and just missed," Coach Brown said. "I told her to keep fighting and that a chance was going to come. She was calm, cool and collected and slotted it into the perfect spot."
WV put forth more attacks to win the shot advantage 18-10 over Bradley, who kept standout playmaker Anna Stouffer on the back line of defense for the majority of the match.
A crushing blow came late for the Bearettes as junior star Cambree Mayo left after taking a hard hit on a slide tackle as she crashed down close to having a look at tying the game with 4:33 left to play.
"Losing Cambree is devastating," Coach Edwards said. "Even if it's not serious, it's definitely upsetting. She is such an impact player and a good all-around person. We are going to fight for her and hope to see her back soon."
Two corner kicks were turned away by the Lady Mustangs, who received stellar play from senior keeper Miriana Patel.
Patel turned away a hard shot by Stouffer to help close out the contest with her sixth save.
Brown was impressed with the second half effort from his program, which keeps a firm hold on the Bradley County championship trophy after improving to 6-3 overall and 2-0 in district play.
"At halftime we talked about our three P's of Walker Valley soccer," Brown said. "Pride, passion and purpose. Much like in life, we had the choice to either play the victim mentality or get up and get after it. Our girls dug deep and overcame adversity against a tough team."
Both teams came out firing early on in front of a large crowd.
One strong attack followed the other for both sides, while Eulo found pay dirt first four minutes in.
Bradley senior Rheagan Harrold followed a hard ricocheting shot by Stouffer off the top cross bar to tie the match two minutes later.
Kendall Harris provided dangerous crosses, which just missed the head of Gibson for potential scoring chances.
Both teams missed out on scoring opportunities where a goalie had been caught out of net.
Despite the tough loss, Coach Edwards remained upbeat about a positive she saw out of her Bearettes (7-2-1, 2-2 5-AAA).
"My defensive line was unbelievable," Edwards said. "Anna on the back line is a sure thing. I was impressed by Lillian Lawson in goal. Those two along with Maddie Tennant, Abbey Scalise and Ki'Eviyon Rittenberry really kept us in the game."
The Lady Mustangs received strong play from Sydney Ellis in the second half, as she crashed down field and applied pressure.
Gibson's eventual game winner is a score that Brown believes will spark her for games to come along with many others.
"Bradley is a very good team," Brown said. "This is the best they have been in years. I have great respect for their program and Coach Edwards. This was a tough and contentious game. I was proud of our girls for finding any way they could to win."
Both teams will take part in the Cleveland Classic, which begins this Thursday (see Scoreboard on B2 for schedule).
Walker Valley and McMinn County are the only two teams with undefeated marks in the district. They will meet on Sept. 27 as the Lady Cherokees will host the match.
WV also looks to keep its focus on Ooltewah, who they play Sept. 18 at home. Bradley is finished for the season in district play.
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