That’s the goal the Science Hill Hilltoppers girls soccer team was trying to accomplish as it hit the road on Saturday night to face the Maryville Rebels at the Kerr Family Soccer Complex in a sectional contest. The winner would move on to state next week in Murfreesboro while the loser would be done for the season.
The Lady ’Toppers had a strong opening half, but three second-half goals doomed them as they fell, 3-0. Science Hill ends the season with a record of 17-4-1.
“Their style was to play the long ball, so that gave them the appearance of being a little less physical than our last game,” Science Hill head coach David Strickland said. “We saw some great performances tonight. When you’re in the round of 16, everyone is going to be good. We’ve had a great season and we only have two seniors.”
The Lady ’Toppers didn’t generate much offense, recording only five shots the whole evening (none in the first half). All but one shot was on goal, though, so the offense did test Maryville goalkeeper Grayson Patterson after intermission.
The first goal for the Lady Rebels was a beautiful shot by Grace Oliver from the left side that curled around Science Hill goalkeeper Haley Elrod in the 51st minute.
Oliver got the ball down inside the box again five minutes later and was fouled trying to get her shot off, so Maryville was rewarded with a penalty.
Reyna Coston buried the penalty shot into the lower left corner and the lead had ballooned to 2-0 within the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Science Hill then started attacking and was got off some good shots from Savannah Fields, Riley Cox and Paige Carlsen.
The defensive pressure of the Lady Rebels was disruptive enough that Science Hill could not get a lot flowing even though they were connecting on a lot of passes. The problem was that Science Hill never connected on a big crossing pass when needed the most.
Abbey Kolarik netted the last goal for Maryville in the 66th minute, putting it over Elrod’s head and sealing the deal for the Lady Rebels.
Elrod finished the game with eight saves and played an outstanding game despite the loss.
The Lady Rebels earned their third-ever bid to Murfreesboro and are currently ranked No. 4 in the state of Tennessee, regardless of classification. They will take a 19-1-3 record, along with a national ranking (currently No. 30), to the central part of the state next week.
For Science Hill, it is poised to return 13 juniors, a sophomore and two freshman to next year’s squad, so the future is bright for Strickland’s bunch in the fall of 2019.