Even after the Lady Hilltoppers came up on the short end of a 3-1 decision, Strickland walked away happy with the way his team played against a high quality opponent. The Lady Hilltoppers controlled the middle of the field, but the Lady Hawks converted a pair of late scoring opportunities to break open a 1-1 deadlock.
“I’m not disappointed,” Strickland said. “We played well. That’s a very good team we played and it’s a measure. I’d rather lose this game early than lose it late, because we can always build.”
After surrendering a goal to Hardin Valley’s Kelsey Green in the first five minutes of the game, the Lady Hilltoppers started settling down and putting pressure on Hardin Valley’s defenders. They generated a few good looks before Hannah Torbett was finally able to net the equalizer for Science Hill in the 37th minute to knot the game at 1.
The Lady ’Toppers were able to possess the ball and move it well toward the box, but that’s where several potential scoring threats seemed to fizzle out as the second half wore on.
“I think overall, from box to box we dominated play,” Strickland said. “It’s just that inside that final third (of the field), creating that explosive play and figuring out how to score. That’s where we just seemed to fall short.”
Hardin Valley finally moved ahead when Lanee Griffin found the net in the 63rd minute, and another goal by Paige Hewitt a little over 10 minutes later pretty much sealed the outcome.
Still, the Lady ’Toppers left the pitch with plenty to build on, and Strickland is hopeful that his players will come away from the loss a better team.
“I think we reacted really well,” Strickland said. “A couple of things could have been different, but in the end, they put three in and we put one in, so they won the game. Me, as a coach, I’m happy with the players and happy with the play.
“We’ve just got to get better in the final third. If we do that, we’ll be tough.”