By PATRICK MacCOON
For the second time in the District 5-AAA soccer tournament, an upset was landed.Behind a hat trick from sophomore standout Cambree Mayo, the No. 3 Bradley Central Bearettes landed a spot in the …
For the second time in the District 5-AAA soccer tournament, an upset was landed.
Behind a hat trick from sophomore standout Cambree Mayo, the No. 3 Bradley Central Bearettes landed a spot in the district finals for the first time since 2004.
“Our girls were rock steady tonight,” said 15th year BCHS head coach Chrissy McKinney after a 4-2 road victory over second-seeded McMinn County Tuesday night. “I was surprised with how focused they stayed, with the physical play.”
With a trusted offensive firepower in Mayo (22 goals, 18 games), who has scored three goals in five matches this season and in three of her last four, the Bearettes (9-6-2) have found a breakthrough for the program.
“McMinn’s starting keeper was out tonight, but Cambree had wheels and was determined to not be stopped by the back line,” McKinney said. “She was getting through gaps and getting in the box with the ball. She had a hat trick in a game where we would have been happy with one goal from her. She was on fire.”
Mayo scored the lone first half goal for either side and added two more in the second, one which broke a tie in the 56th minute.
Do-it-all junior captain Anna Stouffer added a perfectly placed corner kick that “bananaed” around the back post and into the net for a 3-1 lead with under 20 minutes left to play.
In a match Bradley Central never trailed, celebration was in store for a group that had previously lost 4-0 at the Lady Cherokees’ pitch in the regular season.
“Our nine seniors were the most emotional because they earned two more games by winning tonight,” McKinney said. “All of our girls were excited because they knew this was the next step to the region and our long term goals.”
While Bradley Central controlled possession for most of the match, it will face a greater challenge Thursday in the district championship against No. 1 Walker Valley (11-2-2).
“We have really worked on our possession game throughout our last four or five games,” McKinney said. “We know Walker Valley can attack from every angle and we will have to be on top of our game defensively. We will also have to settle it, bring the ball down and be ready for those 50-50’s. Perhaps have some good skips go our way.”
Bradley is prepared for the tough challenge against the district favorite Lady Mustangs, who have won all five matches against league opponents by a combined score of 21-2.
The Bearettes fell 4-0 to their county rival on Sept. 19 at Walker Valley High, which is where they will kick off against one another at 5 p.m. for the second Bradley County-based district championship showdown this week.
“When you get into a game where these kids are your best friends, neighbors and you went to middle school with them, there is a different feel for these games,” McKinney said. “You just don’t know sometimes what you are going to get.”
The last time Bradley was in the district championship was 2003 and 2004, when current assistant coach Savannah (Neely) Edwards was booming her way into the record book with 111 career goals.
With the one-two punch of Mayo-Stouffer, the Bearettes are a threat to strike at any time and also are well in-tune with their identity as a whole.
“A lot of these girls have accepted their role as being support players and that shows a lot of character about them,” McKinney said. “Makenzie Tennant and Lauren McKinney work tirelessly to anchor our midfield.
“Hannah Dalton (senior captain) has a lot of speed and aggression on the outsides. We like to play it to her a lot. She has scored some goals and assisted quite a few as well. The support they all offer the key players is really huge.”
Both district championship programs will advance to the region tournament that will begin next Tuesday.
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