Lady Hilltoppers super freshman Megan Burleson scored just 35 seconds into the match and tallied another goal in the fourth minute to leave visiting Dobyns-Bennett stunned. Burleson finished with three goals in Science Hill’s dominating 4-0 victory.
“We were on top of it right from the start,” said Burleson, the tournament’s MVP. “We got all the loose balls and everyone worked so hard. I’m really proud of everyone on the team.”
The tournament finalists qualified for Tuesday’s Region 1-AAA semifinals. As the District 1 champion Science Hill (16-3-1) gets to host Knox West (9-6-3). D-B must travel to District 2 champion Bearden (17-6-1).
Science Hill coach David Strickland saw his team’s fast start as one of the keys to the win.
“Obviously, a goal in the first minute helps tremendously,” said Strickland, whose team led 2-0 at halftime. “I felt like we were on the front foot all night. Our intensity of getting after the ball was something we did very well. It was exciting to see.”
After the two quick strikes by Science Hill, the match settled down. The Lady ’Toppers continued their attacks on D-B goalkeeper Ellie Nash and only her brilliant play kept the score from getting completely out of hand.
The Lady Hilltoppers’ defense smothered the Lady Indians to the point that they could barely advance the ball across midfield. In the first half, Science Hill produced 14 shots — five of them on frame — and limited D-B to just one shot, which came on a set piece three minutes before the half.
“That early goal set us back and we had to fight hard to get back into the game,” said D-B coach Tony Weaver.
The final 40 minutes of the contest offered more of the same. The Lady Hilltoppers kept pounding the ball deep into D-B’s end of the pitch.
Burleson notched her third goal four minutes into the second half, and the air seemed to come out of the Lady Indians.
Sophia Youngman added Science Hill’s final goal in the 69th.
Nash, the District 1-AAA goalkeeper of the year, finished with 10 saves.
“Our girls know they can play,” Weaver said. “We just have to start believing in ourselves.”