Science Hill wasn’t about to fall into the same trap two weeks in a row.
The Lady Hilltoppers (19-1) stormed out of the gates with two goals in the first half and added another early in the second half to beat Jefferson County 3-1 in Tuesday’s Region 1-AAA girls soccer semifinal at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
It was a much different start than a week earlier when the Lady ’Toppers trailed most of the way in a district semifinal against Sullivan Central before rallying for a 3-2 victory.
“We talked about how the last time we played Jefferson County we outshot them 31-5,” Science Hill head coach Megan Harmon said. “Tonight we had our first shot within two minutes. Tonight it was an emphasis that we had to set the tone, be physical and create shots early. The girls did that and did a great job.
“They didn’t let down on the intensity and we played a lot of girls tonight. All of those girls have been integral in our success. It’s one through 24, and I’m glad all of them contributed.”
With an assist from Grace Browder, Rachel Jones had a strong kick from 15 yards to put Lady ’Toppers on the board first.
Only five minutes later, Jones battled past a pair of Jefferson County defenders and scored on an unassisted goal at the 19:42 mark.
“It was a good pass from Grace, so it was just me putting it in the back of the net,” Jones said about the first goal. “That other goal, I just took a good touch and hit it as hard as I could.”
Cori Kilby helped Science Hill set the tone her head coach was talking about with the team’s first shot attempt.
She added another later in the half, as the Lady ’Toppers went into the intermission with an 11-1 advantage in shots, including a 6-1 edge in shots on goal.
“It felt good to get out there and get some shots off,” Kilby said. “I wish I could have put them in, but our team got it and put the goals in the back of the net. That was really reassuring to get those two goals.”
Timbra Delaney added Science Hill’s third goal in the 52nd minute on a kick from the left side which reached the upper right corner of the goal. Jessica Fabozzi was credited with an assist on the play.
Delaney led the Lady ’Toppers with four shot attempts, while Paige Stull, Kilby and Jones each ended with two shots.
The Lady Patriots (7-11-4) finally got on the scoreboard in the 72nd minute with a kick from 20 yards out by Carly Kirkpatrick. Jefferson County put forth an inspired effort in the second half with a 5-4 edge in shots, and 4-2 on shots on goal.
“We played hard the whole game. I just wish we would have been a little more organized,” Jefferson County coach Shawn Way said. “I told the girls at halftime to leave it all on the field and they did. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but Science Hill is a quality side, very organized and very well-prepared.”
Science Hill will face Morristown West, a 4-2 winner over Dobyns-Bennett on Tuesday, in today’s regional championship. Regardless of the outcome, the Lady ’Toppers clinched a berth in Saturday’s sectional round with their win over Jefferson County.
“We just keep on trucking and we’re excited about that,” said Harmon. “That’s what I told the girls that we weren’t just playing for this game, but a chance to play in the sub-state. The girls got a taste of that last year and they wanted it again. They weren’t satisfied last year, so that’s been our goal all year.”