Science Hill kept its girls soccer season on the move with a tough 1-0 victory over Jefferson County in the Region 1-AAA semifinals on a rainy Tuesday night at Tipton Stadium.
“It was a tight game, and it was a very good game,” said Science Hill head coach David Strickland. “I think the result was fair. We won that game. It was well played and what a semifinal should be like.”
Improving to 17-2-1 on the season, the Lady Hilltoppers advanced to Thursday’s championship on the road against Knox Bearden with game time at 7 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs (14-4-1) throttled Tennessee High by a score of 7-1.
Science Hill and Bearden also earned berths in Saturday’s sectional round, where a trip to the state tournament will be at stake.
The first half not only produced zero goals, there also weren’t a bevy of chances to find the net for either team.
And so, the tension mounted in an elimination game.
“It was stressful because they’re a very good team and they have very fast players up front,” said Science Hill junior defender Julia Luna. “We just kept our composure and settled down, and did very well.”
As the contest drifted toward the middle part of the second half, Science Hill missed on a few serious chances.
And then the game turned on one key play. After a penalty in the box on Jefferson County, Strickland’s choice for the PK was senior Riley Cox. She sized up the goalkeeper and went hard right and low for what turned out to be the game’s only goal.
“Penalty kicks are something she is very confident in,” said Strickland. “She just took it, tucked it away, and it was a great goal.”
Luna said Cox’s score helped the defense as well.
“It lifted our spirits all the way up, and we had all the momentum going,” said Luna. “And I know it brought (Jefferson County) down. It was very good for us.”
THE ROAD AHEAD
With Bearden up next and a sectional match to follow, Luna said the Hilltoppers’ play needs to elevate.
“We have to work hard and push ourselves harder than we’ve ever pushed ourselves before,” she said.