Lady Rockets eke out 2-1 win over Tigerettes
For the better part of the past decade the Forrest Lady Rockets have been decidedly dominant on the soccer field against county rival Marshall County High School with the two squads splitting the past two meeting heading into Tuesday night's matchup.
With both teams nursing the wounds from season opening losses, the annual rivalry game proved to be the most competitive contest between the squads in years with the northern end of the county coming away victorious for the second season in a row, 2-1 at MCHS.
"I think we played a much better first half tonight than we played the whole game against Columbia Academy the other day," Forrest coach Nicole Pickle said. "We played more like a team in the first half and I think that made all the difference in the world."
"We got kind of shaky from the middle to the end of the second half, but the girls played like a team tonight and I'm really proud of them," Pickle added.
The upperclassmen led the way for both squads as seniors Johnetta Nelson scored both Lady Rocket goals and goalkeeper Jasmine Runk added nine saves against an active Tigerette offense.
"My defense really helped me out tonight by keeping everybody up and forcing them to take far shots," Runk said. "So, the key to everything tonight was our strong defense."
Meanwhile, the Tigerettes were led on the offensive end by senior co-captain Grace Smith, who scored the lone Marshall County goal and had three other shots on goal.
"You can't play any better of a game and lose," MCHS coach Mark Redferrin said. "We tripled their shot total, we tripled their possessions and just couldn't score. Stuff just didn't fall our way tonight but I'm proud of the way we battled."
Defense was the name of the game for most of the first half as senior goalkeepers Runk and Haley Porter sent back shot after shot for their respective teams.
The Lady Rockets finally broke through with 5:01 remaining in the first half as Nelson broke loose to put the visitors up 1-0.
"Zoe (Long) went down the field with the ball and I was running with her, she kicked it across the goal and I hit it the goal," Nelson explained.
That would be the lone goal by either squad in the first half as the goalkeepers and defense resumed their tight play.
The Tigerettes wasted little time getting back into the game as Smith scored just 26 seconds into the second half on an assist from Patience Ferguson.
"Patience and I did a nice little one-two and she put it ahead of me," Smith recalled. "I was able to get a good touch. It was kind of cool, I did a kind of sliding touch. I was proud of it."
Marshall County ramped up its offensive attack following the Smith score, but Runk continued to rack up save after save.
Smith missed a penalty shot by inches with 27:28 remaining and managed to break away from the Lady Rocket defense but again missed a one on one shot by a hair with 15:38 left.
The Lady Rockets had its turn at the lead with Long breaking free for a shot, but a diving Porter saved the Tigerettes and kept the score tied at 1-1.
Smith came maddeningly close to a game winner from 10 feet with 11 minutes remaining and Macie Baker missed a 10-footer before a diving Porter denied the junior's shot before Nelson came through in the clutch.
With just under six minutes remaining, Nelson took a pass from Macy Brown and finally was able to sneak one past Porter to give the Lady Rockets the decisive 2-1 lead.
"Macy Brown had the ball and then she went to the middle and short kicked it," Nelson said. "I just crashed the goal and scored."
The Nelson goal proved to be the game winner and the Lady Rockets claimed its first victory of the season and left the Tigerettes winless after two games.
Marshall County 0 1-1