Maturing Lady Bulldogs have playoff dreams
Much like its football team, Cornersville's soccer team is made up of mostly underclassman, with just one senior to go along with a strong core of 10 juniors and the Lady Bulldogs are hoping to turn a better than expected 2015 season into a successful 2016 year ending with a deep run in the state playoffs.
The Lady Bulldogs (2-2, 2-1) faced its most trying test of the young season by welcoming perennial power Fairview (4-0, 4-0) into southern Marshall County and although the final score read 5-1 in the Yellow Jackets' favor, Cornersville outplayed the Williamson County squad for much of the contest but came up just short of the win.
Pressure was on
"I feel really good about this game," Cornersville coach Lindsey Bledsoe said. "This is the first team we've played that's really put a lot of pressure up against us. This gave the girls a chance to go up against a really good team and see what we had against somebody who has skills."
"Losses like this are important for us," Bledsoe added. "Even though we hate to lose, they're important because they make us want to go out and win ever more."
If Fairview is the cream of the crop in District 11 A/AA the Lady Bulldogs are not far behind as the Yellow Jackets first three opponents lost by a combined score of 24-0, leaving Cornersville as the first team to score a goal against Fairview and also holding the Yellow Jackets to its lowest point total of the 2016 season.
"Everybody is older this year," sophomore defensive midfielder Hunter Campbell, who picked up the lone assist of the night, said. "We've gotten closer together as a team so we know how to work together. Last year everybody was new so we didn't talk and we weren't good together as a team but now we know how to work with each other and communicate."
Cornersville gave up an early goal to the Yellow Jackets, but the Lady Bulldogs back line of Campbell and Elizabeth Taylor teamed up with Anna Allen, Sydney Downs and Bethany Carlton to hold the usually high scoring visitors scoreless until a second goal right before halftime.
A combination of lack of depth and hot weather finally took a toll on the home squad as the Yellow Jackets tacked on three more scores on a host of Bulldog mistakes and looked ready to run away with the game before a final surge put Cornersville in a position for a comeback for the record books with under 10 minutes remaining.
The rally started when Campbell cleared the ball straight to a streaking Taylor Powers who dribbled out ahead of the Fairview defenders and the junior scored the first goal on the Yellow Jackets in 2016 to bring the deficit back down to 5-1.
"Once everyone saw that we could score on them, everyone got the confidence and realized that we could win against Fairview," Powers said. "I think that helped us find confidence to work together as a team and if it wouldn't have been for Hunter (Campbell), my score wouldn't have happened."
The Bulldogs found the offensive confidence it had been lacking the entire game and behind the strong legs of Powers, Carlton, Moira Borne and Suany Armijo, who all came within a foot of scoring on seven straight shots on goal, but each shot was either a tiny bit wide or tall for the score to change and Cornersville walked away with a loss from a game it was close to winning.
"They did what I asked of them," coach Bledsoe said. "They kind of pulled it together at the end and you know, winning is not all about the scoreboard. It stinks to lose, don't get me wrong, but we had some wins tonight."
The Bulldogs get another shot at making noise for the district race when undefeated District 11-A/AA foe Grace Christian (3-2, 3-0) travels to Cornersville on Thursday for a 5 p.m. match.