• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Staff

Girls’ soccer wins a pair of close games

MACKENZIE TUCKER battles for a header with Franklin County defender Olivia Hagg. The Jackets won the game 2-1. (Photo by Bill Caine)

Woodford County High School girls’ soccer Coach Brad Turpin’s Jackets are finding out how resilient they are as they hit the midseason point. The Jackets played from behind on two occasions against Madison Central on Sept. 13 and came back to win the game. In the first half, the Lady Indians came out aggressively, firing shots at keeper Sydney Beavers. Woodford was pushed back on defense a handful of times early, and the Lady Indians struck first on a corner kick. The rain started to fall at Community Stadium and as the rain picked up, so did the Jacket offense. After a nifty play from Lauren Rankin to take the ball away from the Lady Indians, Rankin fed a charging Mackenzie Tucker for the goal to tie the game. Tucker went by and around four Lady Indians to score the goal. “The team has been coming together and being there for each other much more this week,” said Emma Oberlander. “When you support each other as we have been, you can overcome being down early in a game. It’s something we are working on, and it’s helping us.” After another quick score by Madison Central, the Lady Jackets were struggling to find opportunities to score against the Lady Indians’ defense. Oberlander stepped up and made a fantastic play on the ball and looked up the field to Shelbi Morrison, who fired the ball past the keeper in the last minute of the first half. “It’s always hard after you give up the first goal of the game,” said midfielder Raegan Gilbert. “Our goal is to stay positive in those situations. I’m proud of our team with how we were able to execute a game plan even when we fell behind twice. This was a big step forward for us.” In the second half, the rain was much heavier, but the game itself was just starting to get interesting. Kristen Jordan was outstanding as keeper for the Jackets in the second half. Jordan made multiple stops in net and came out of the net to dive in front of potential scorers to stop the attack. That kind of effort produced a spark within the Jackets. Woodford played aggressively, and although they had a few shot attempts go wide, they were able to sneak a pair in to win the game. In the 46th minute, Morrison found Tucker with a fantastic pass between two Lady Indian defenders and Tucker blasted the shot by the keeper. “I think in the second half we had a much better defensive strategy,” said sophomore Carter Hays. “We were doing a lot of talking and making sure we were all in the right spots. Our positivity was much better tonight, and our passing led to good chances, and that is what we have been looking for.” Late in the game, Morrison found the back of the net again on a great pass from Ava Crawford to bring the score to 4-2. “It’s nice to know that we can come back and fight like we did tonight,” said Turpin. “We have had a tendency to hang our heads a bit when we get down. I cannot tell you how happy I was to see that fight from this team. The energy never stopped on the field, and something feels a little different about this team tonight. We’ll be better if we have to play them again.” On Saturday afternoon, the Lady Jackets fought off a scrappy Franklin County team to win 2-1 on the road at Capitol View Park. The temperature was in the 80s, and the sudden weather change played a factor in this game. Both teams substituted players at a fast pace to keep up with the fatigue factor. The officials stopped the game at one point to allow the players to rehydrate in the first half. “We knew what we were getting into, but you don’t know how your body will react to the heat,” said Jasmine Collins. “We talked about it and knew we had to work twice as hard to make our game plan work.” Morrison scored the first goal of the game in the first two minutes on a Jaylynn Murillo assist. After the first goal of the game, both teams played a gritty defensive game for much of the first half. The Lady Flyers pressured the Jackets often, but the defense would not break in the first half. Jordan made a handful of saves, and the score remained 1-0 at halftime. “It was hot out there today,” said Makayla Devore. “It was a good team effort to battle out there today when we aren’t used to this heat.” In the second half, the Jackets were pressured for much of the half by the Lady Flyers until the 75th minute when a shot was just over the fingertips of Jordan to tie the game at 1-1. The Jackets immediately responded when Tucker scored off a Morrison assist. “They had us flustered at times,” said Rankin. “We kept our composure and played the game the way we know how to play it, and it took care of itself. “We have very talented, if not the most talented set of forwards in the state,” said Turpin. “They responded well after the Franklin County goal, and we were also down a few players with some girls being sick right now, but it was nice to come out of here with the win.”

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