Morristown West would like to forget Science Hill’s senior moment on Tuesday night.
The Lady ’Toppers handed the Lady Trojans their first loss of the season while improving to 14-1 with a 2-0 victory on Senior Night at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
Sophomore Grace Browder scored the first goal in the 21st minute and senior Dani Cade assisted freshman Rachel Jones’ goal some two minutes before intermission, and Morristown West (10-1) missed wide left then high on two penalty kicks in the second half.
Science Hill coach Megan Harmon was especially pleased to see her squad play with purpose on a night in which the Lady Toppers had a video they recorded play on the scoreboard during the pregame and also wore jerseys with pink numbers to raise awareness for breast cancer.
And seeing Cade and fellow seniors Taylor Newsom and Alex Fellers play well was much like the pink icing on the cupcakes Harmon was handing out after the victory. Newsom and Cade transferred to Science Hill before their junior seasons.
“It’s like they’ve been here all along,” Harmon said. “They have stepped up big-time and controlled the defense. … The three of them bring so many different things to the table.”
Cade set the table when she finessed a lead pass into the box for Jones to finish from some 15 yards out.
“Rachel’s playing well,” Harmon said. “She’s got something like 16 goals in 15 games.”
The right-footed Browder’s left-footed shot came from near the left sideline from some 25-30 yards out, and hooked away from West keeper Sarah Matson while reaching the net from comfortably inside the right post.
“We’ve talked a lot in the last two weeks about finishing and not just shooting, but looking up and seeing where the keeper is and seeing the best place in the goal to shoot it,” Harmon said. “And Grace did it; I saw her. She looked up, she had great placement, and I mean it was excellent. Grace has been working her hiney off in practice and she’s really stepping up.”
West’s intensity didn’t ebb in the second half, which is often the case when a late score creates a multi-goal cushion at intermission. Two missed penalty kicks notwithstanding, Lady Trojans coach Jennifer Murphy was pleased with her players’ energy.
“They played a good second half,” Murphy said. “Science Hill’s always good. Never beat them — and today doesn’t change the story — but I’m proud of my girls. They played their butts off tonight, and I can’t go home unhappy.
“Yeah, we missed two PKs, but that doesn’t really matter, because this doesn’t hurt or help us at this point. But my hat’s off to Science Hill. They’re always a good team.”
Science Hill junior keeper Jona Charles has been a force-field against such so-called freebies. Knox Catholic failed to cash in five opportunities earlier this season.
“She’s a good keeper on stuff like that,” Harmon said. “She was 5-for-5 down in Chattanooga. It was the thing where they start on the 35-yard line and it’s a one on one. On most of them she slid in and got the ball.”
She guessed correctly on West’s first conventional PK, and it appeared the diving Charles, who’s drawn interest from Samford, Virginia Tech and Carson-Newman, would’ve made the save had Megan Horner’s kick in the 42nd minute not been wide left. Horner’s straight blast was just high on the PK in the 79th minute.
Harmon was more impressed with her reserve players’ effort in the second half than she was with the judgments that produced the Trojans’ opportunities.
“Our subs went in tonight and we didn’t lose anything,” Harmon said. “We didn’t lose any intensity; we didn’t lose any focus. … We kept everything high, whoever was in the game.
“That way we can wear teams down. I told them ‘This was a beautiful night of soccer.’”
Science Hill junior Timbra Delaney generated a couple of shots on goal early in the first half, and created a couple of other opportunities out of seemingly innocuous situations.
“She brings so much to our team just by creating opportunities and … creating things out of nothing,” Harmon said. “I think she’s leading us in assists right now and second in scoring. She’s creating a lot of things and I’m pretty proud of her for her selfless play.”
Although Science Hill possessed the ball the vast majority of the match and out-shot West 17-5, quality scoring opportunities for both teams were in single digits.
“They played well,” Harmon said. “They played physical, very physical. And to their credit, they gave us a hard-fought match. …
“Credit to our girls. They could’ve had a lot of distractions tonight with the Breast Cancer Awareness game and Senior Night, but they came through and focused for us.”
Science Hill visits Tennessee High on Thursday at 6 p.m.