The Lady 'Toppers battled to a scoreless tie in the first half before taking a 1-0 win over the Lady Indians at Indian-Highlands Park. It was nothing like the teams' first meeting four weeks ago in Johnson City, where Science Hill romped to an 8-1 win.
This time around, Dobyns-Bennett (7-3-1) controlled the action much of the first half. The Lady 'Toppers (15-2-0) turned the tables and in the 56th minute finally broke through when Sydney Jordan scored off an assist from Riley Cox.
"Riley played me an absolutely great through ball," Jordan said. "It had built up even from Savannah (Fields). We just had great combinations toward the end and played a much better second half."
Even with that, the stats were close as Science Hill led Dobyns-Bennett by just a 14-11 advantage in shot attempts. There were multiple times the Lady 'Toppers almost scored.
"We talked about it was going to be tougher this time around," Science Hill coach David Strickland said. "The last time, we got them early and it got their spirits. We knew coming here would be harder and they had put together a bunch of wins (six straight for D-B prior to Tuesday). It was a good game and we hit the crossbar seven times, so I thought we attacked well. I thought we mopped up and defended well too, so it was good."
Dobyns-Bennett goalkeeper Cydney Kinkead came through late when Fields and Teagan Kearsey had shot attempts in the final 10 minutes. Ariana Gallegos Rodriguez missed an opportunity in the 76th minute when her shot was wide left.
The Lady Indians took the final two shot attempts, including a long-range kick from Claire Chapman in the final minute. Dobyns-Bennett's McKenzie Guest, Halle Stidham and Anna Kate Breeding pressed at different times in the second half, but to no avail.
Still, the improvement from the earlier meeting could be easily seen on the field and on the scoreboard.
"We're obviously a better team than we were four weeks ago," Rutherford said. "The last time, we had some people injured and it's a little different when we're at full strength. Not that Science Hill didn't deserve to win, but we should have been up 1 or 2 to nothing in the first half. We created some really good opportunities. You can't allow a team like Science Hill to turn you like a doorknob. Good teams find a way to finish and a great finish by Sydney Jordan."
While it was just a 1-0 lead in the final minutes, Science Hill's coach still felt comfortable as his team was able to effectively move the ball.
"It didn't feel like we were under a ton of duress," Strickland said. "We moved the ball around and the nice thing was it would be like four of us and one of them."
Science Hill has a week off before hosting David Crockett next Tuesday. Dobyns-Bennett hosts Daniel Boone on Thursday and then heads to Tennessee High next Tuesday as the Lady Indians are looking to wrap up second place in the league.