The Science Hill girls’ soccer team reached a milestone with a 3-1 victory over Morristown West in the Region 1-AAA championship at Kermit Tipton Stadium, but the Lady ‘Toppers were more concerned with the task in front of them.
The Lady Hilltoppers secured their 20th win of the season against just one loss on Wednesday night, but head coach Megan Harmon was already looking ahead to Saturday’s sectional match and a chance for Science Hill to reach the state tournament for the first time since 2005.
“It was a big deal for us to host,” Harmon said about a second straight sectional berth. “We love this field and we wanted to protect it. I feel like this season is a repeat of last season with the only difference coming hopefully on Saturday.
“These girls have done great things, district champions and region champions two years in a row, but they’re not satisfied. They’re hungry and I love that about this team.”
The squads battled to a scoreless draw in the first half as Morristown West (16-3) consistently kept five defenders in the back.
Science Hill, which had beaten West 2-0 only two weeks earlier, was limited to only one shot attempt late in the first half when Paige Stull fired a shot from the right side.
A minute later, Jessica Fabozzi gave a thunderous boot which required quick action by the Lady Trojans’ goalkeeper Sarah Matson for a save.
However, Fabozzi wasn’t about to be denied in the second half.
She scored on a penalty kick, right down the middle, in the 46th minute for a 1-0 Science Hill lead.
“It felt good when we got our first goal,” Fabozzi said. “After that, we kept doing it again and again with the shots. We pretty much dominated the second half.”
Alex Fellers posted the second score on a 25-yard boot in the 53rd minute. It was a high-arcing kick which Matson deflected before it bounced inside the goal.
“I didn’t think it was going in, but it meant a lot to us,” said Fellers, who also had an assist in Tuesday’s semifinal. “It built our confidence.
“We were having a lot of opportunities outside the box since they were packing it back. We were dropping back and shooting from far out, and it seemed to work for us.”
Timbra Delaney added an insurance goal in the 73rd minute off an assist from Cori Kilby.
Harmon said it was key that the girls didn’t get frustrated despite only four shot attempts in the first half.
“We tried to look at things one game at a time and break it down even more -- one half at a time and five minutes at a time,” Harmon said. “We’re used to teams using that strategy. We’ve talked about how to deal with that, how to beat that and how to be patient.
“There are no magic words that we can say that will change that. The patience is the key. The girls just responded to it and had the attitude that we weren’t leaving here until we win.”
West had a 10-9 advantage in shot attempts, although Science Hill had seven shots on goal.
Bree Eccles gave Morristown West its lone score in the 76th minute with an unassisted goal which sailed over the fingertips of Science Hill keeper Jona Charles.
“If we would have fought as hard in the second half as in the first half, I don’t think we would be in this position right now,” West coach Jennifer Murphy said. “A controversial call got the best of us, but we dropped our heads and never recovered. It’s our fault and hats off to Science Hill because they always bring it.”
Science Hill now awaits the loser of today’s Region 2 championship between Farragut and Bearden in Saturday’s sectional match scheduled for 3 p.m. Morristown West will go on the road to Knoxville for its chance at a state berth.