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University High girls hang on against South

Jeff Birchfield • Oct 4, 2019 at 12:52 AM

JOHNSON CITY — University High girls soccer coach Ryann Williams warned her team at halftime of Thursday night’s match against Sullivan South. Her words rang true in the second half.

After the Lady Bucs were only able to take advantage of one scoring opportunity in the first half, Williams told her team they would have to fight until the end against the Lady Rebels. It certainly was the case as the Lady Bucs held on for a 1-0 hard-fought win at ETSU’s Summers-Taylor Stadium.

“I’m proud of how they held on; however, we didn’t play our game tonight,” Williams said. “Our minds weren’t in the game in the beginning and we had to fight to hold on. I’m proud they didn’t give up and were very resilient, but we’ve got to show up.”

Makenna Oiler provided the lone goal of the match, a 20-yard angling kick beyond the right side of the box in the 13th minute. Ironically, the goal was more about feel and the trust in a teammate than aiming for the back of the net.

“I was a little outside the top of the 18 (yard box),” Oiler said. “Actually, I couldn’t see anything. Olivia Hare told me, ‘Take the shot.’ So I beat the player and hit it and it went right in.”

It was one of a team-high five shot attempts for Oiler on Senior Night. University High enjoyed a 16-11 advantage in shot attempts, although it had a 7-1 advantage early in the match. Oiler said the Bucs struggled on ETSU’s field, which is wider than the Winged Deer Park field where they normally play.

South also struggled at times on the larger field. The Lady Rebels missed two close calls to tie on penalty kicks. Emily Maxwell’s shot in the 25th minute bounced hard off the crossbar and late in the second half, a save by Lady Bucs’ goalkeeper Shannon Willard denied Mattie Topping’s hard boot.

The Lady Rebels (4-8) stayed on the attack late as Cari Creech ended the match with five shot attempts and Sydney Ferrando had three. Tristen Mintz and Skylar Mittelsteadt had near misses in the closing minutes.

“We made a lot of progress in our attack,” South coach Luci Creech said. “We are down four players with concussions and illness. These girls played hard all night long and worked their tails off. We’ve improved a lot. We played them in early August and didn’t fare as well.”

University High, which won the team’s first meeting 9-2, was the early aggressor as Hare booted four shots and Grace Moreland took three. Carmen Ellis had two shots. It was the defense with senior Claudia Saucier leading the way on the back end and the freshman Willard in goal, which preserved the victory in the end.

“It was challenging, but my defense helped me,” Willard said. “They wanted to score and we had to stop them. One time back there, I dove and missed the ball. It was an open shot, but my defense blocked it. There was a good 10 seconds of trying to clear it.”

University High finishes off the regular season with a home match against Sullivan Central next Thursday. Sullivan South plays at Central on Tuesday.

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