Viqueens blank Cornersville in district tournament opener
The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs opened up the District 6-A/AA tournament at Community on Tuesday night as the big time underdog, having lost 7-3 against the Viqueens (5-5-2) just under a month ago.
Cornersville (2-8-2) did more than just embrace the role, keeping the home team on its heels until two goals in less than a minute with under 13 minutes remaining finally put the Lady Bulldogs away by a 3-0 score.
"We had more confidence coming into this game than the last time we played against them," sophomore Sydney Downs stated. "Our passing has gotten better throughout the season and we learned to play better as a team."
2017 was supposed to be the breakout year for the Lady Bulldogs, having won six games and finished .500 in the district in 2016, plus outscoring its opponents by an impressive 27-1 margin in those wins.
Coach Lindsey Bledsoe's squad returned nine seniors and five juniors this season, but a series of injuries and an inability to put points on the board led to just two wins in 2017.
The Lady Bulldogs managed just six goals in its 10 losses or ties, but tallied 15 points in its two wins.
Cornersville looked like a dangerous opponent to Community heading into the tournament as the Lady Dawgs lost a close 2-1 match against Columbia Academy, which had beaten Cornersville by a combined 19-0 score in two meetings the previous season, and tied one-loss Huntland in the final two regular season matches.
The Viqueens made a statement early with Gabby Doyle scoring the first goal of the game just three minutes in at the 37 minute mark, but the Lady Bulldogs defense dug its heels in and star senior goalie Mikaela King set back every other Community shot of the half.
Cornersville had a prime opportunity to tie the game when Downs attempted a penalty shot from eight feet away from Community goalie Jaley Vincent with just three minutes remaining in the half but Vincent guessed correctly and the Lady Bulldogs best chance at tying the game was denied.
The injury bug hit Cornersville one final time in 2017 when key defender Hunter Campbell went down with an ankle injury with 15 minutes on the clock, followed by two debatable yellow cards on Cornersville within 30 seconds at 12:47 and 12:12.
The initial penalty shot was far off the mark and the second was sent back on a beautiful save by King, but Viqueen freshman Lexie Molnar was able to ricochet the miss off a Bulldog foot to push the lead to 2-0 and erase a masterful second half shutout by the maroon and white.
"Yeah, both of those penalty shots kind of took the wind out of us," Bledsoe said. "And Hunter getting hurt and coming out was really tough. All the girls look up to her and it happened at the worst possible time."
Already wounded from the key injury and the penalty shot put-back score, Cornersville gave up one last goal at the 9:45 mark when junior Logan Brothers put in a long goal from 30 yards out to extend the final score to 3-0.
"Despite the loss, I'm still proud of the game and the way we played," Bledsoe remarked. "We still have a lot to learn. We will learn what we can from this game and move on to next season. We're always thinking about the next move."