The Marshall County Tigerettes (6-4) recorded their first postseason victory in seven years Saturday afternoon when they defeated arch rival Forrest 3-0 at home in the first round of the District tournament to knock the Lady Rockets (4-6) out of the playoffs.
Having defeated Forrest 4-2 during the regular season, the fourth seeded Tigerettes held a 1-0 lead at halftime before tallying two more goals in the first 11 minutes of the second stanza to open up a 3-0 advantage. The game was then called 10 minutes early by the officials because of the poor condition of the field, which had become a muddy quagmire during the course of the contest due to heavy rains earlier in the week.
With the victory, Marshall County advanced to the semifinals of the District tournament for the first time since 2002 where they will likely take on top seeded Page.
"I told you that you'd see good things from us this year and I think we proved that today," said MCHS coach Lisa Raffo. "This is a big win for our program and it meant a great deal because it came against our county rival."
Although the officials prematurely ended the Lady Rockets season, Forrest coach Sherry Jones didn't disagree with the decision and made no excuses despite the extremely sloppy conditions.
"I wasn't upset because it was for the safety of the kids," said Jones. "If a team should go on to the next round, it should be Lewisburg. The playing conditions were horrendous but it was the same for both teams. The only thing we can do is wish them luck against Page. We can't use the conditions as an excuse."
Raffo on the other hand thought her team had a small advantage by playing at home.
"I think being at home and knowing our field like we do gave us a little edge there," said Raffo. "We worked on getting more air under our passes during the week because we knew the field would be bad."
MCHS senior midfielder and leading scorer Kaitlyn Pung rose to the occasion for the Tigerettes, as she tallied all three Marshall County goals and now has 19 on the season. Karra Martinez and Abbie Perez had one assist apiece for Marshall County as well.
"I felt some pressure to step up and play well especially with my dad being one of the coaches, but the other girls on the team allowed me to have the game I had," said Pung. "This is something our team has worked hard to achieve so it wasn't unexpected."
Marshall County controlled play for much of the contest and outshot the Lady Rockets 14-5 overall. Pung fired nine shots on goal to lead the Tigerettes, while Martinez and Cece Raffo each took two shots. Rachel Zajac also attempted one shot for MCHS.
Senior striker Anna Wiser took three shots to pace Forrest, while Taylour Allen and Kelli Farlow each had one shot.
Goaltender Ja'Neice Cathey went the distance for the Tigerettes and finished with five saves. Forrest starting goalie Shannon Warren, meanwhile, allowed one goal and recorded five saves before being replaced by Caleigh Smith, who yielded two goals and made two saves.
Warren managed to turn back three Marshall County scoring chances in the first 18 minutes of the contest before Pung fired a pair of shots just outside the FHS goal in a span of 60 seconds.
The Tigerettes' pressure, however, finally paid off in the 20th minute when Pung took a pass from Perez in the middle of the field and blasted an eight-yard shot into the lower left hand corner of the net to give MCHS a 1-0 lead.
After Warren stopped a breakaway attempt by Pung in the 25th minute, Cathey made a couple of nice saves on long range attempts by the Lady Rockets over the next five minutes to preserve Marshall County's one-goal advantage before Wiser ripped a 20-yard shot from the left hand side of the field that sailed just wide of the right post in the 38th minute.
Pung then stretched the Tigerettes' lead to 2-0 in the opening moments of the second half when she beat a Forrest defender down the right side of the field in the 42nd minute and laced a 12-yard shot into the left side of the net.
In the 51st minute, Pung completed the hat trick by chipping a 10-yard shot over Smith's outstretched hands to make it 3-0 after Martinez had lined the ball off of a FHS defender.
Cathey then stopped a low line drive shot by Wiser in the 66th minute to preserve the shutout before the officials ended the game in the 70th minute.