Photo by Roxane Reed
Grainger Today Correspondent
RUTLEDGE – In a season filled with injuries, the Grainger High School Lady Grizzly soccer team has finally broken through with a big win last Thursday. The thrilling 3-2 victory was over a Union County team that had defeated the Lady Grizzlies 6-0 in an earlier match this season.
“The girls have had a tough time this season with all our injuries,” said Lady Grizzly soccer coach Tonya Wear. “The team needs to weld together and play with unity but with all the injuries this season, it’s been a battle since we never knew who would be starting each game.”
In addition, Grainger is at a great disadvantage in soccer since it is the only district team whose school district does not have a middle school soccer team to help prepare students for high school level. There are also few opportunities for travel soccer available for Grainger soccer players who would have to go to Morristown or Knoxville to play on a travel team.
The Lady Grizzlies put all those obstacles aside Thursday night as they came together as a team and posted an important victory.
For the first 15 minutes of the match, the Lady Grizzlies controlled the ball on their side of the field, but it was not until the 13th minute of the contest that Grainger broke through with a goal. A corner kick by Ramsey Thomson was turned into a shot-on-goal by Matty Tanner, which was deflected by Union County’s goalie. However, Meredith Hodges was there to finish the goal for a 1-0 lead.
After the Lady Patriots had knotted the score at one-all just over 19 minutes in the match, Grainger responded at the 23-minute mark as Ramsey Thomson crossed the ball to Kayliee Young at midfield. Young then popped the ball up to Abby Young at forward. When the Union County goalie attacked her, the ball was fumbled out, but Tanner was there for the followup and scored to send the teams to intermission with Grainger holding a 2-1 lead.
After a half-time speech that encouraged the girls to keep fighting, especially defensively, the Lady Grizzlies returned to the field. Union County had some very talented and fast forwards but fortunately, the Lady Grizzlies have some very tough and fast defensive players. Lauren Boling, Lauren Longmire, Maria Warren and Brittany Bunch all worked together as a machine while they backed each other up and communicated well in spite of having already been pushed to their limits, both physically and mentally in the first half.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Union had a direct kick as a result of a Lady Grizzly being called for a foul. The Lady Patriots got the ball to the right spot for their forward who toughed it through the Grainger line and connected on a shot that went into the back corner of the net to knot the game at 2-all.
With coach Troy Wear continuing to encourage the girls to focus and keep the faith, the match moved into the final two minutes. With the Lady Patriots passing the ball back and forth, Tanner deflected the ball to Hodges, who got it to Abby Young for a Lady Grizzly goal and a 3-2 victory over one of the top two teams in the district.