Tigerettes suffer season opening loss
It's no secret that the Marshall County girls soccer team play in one of the deepest 2A districts in the entire state.
Longtime rival Page has made the state tournament four times (2009, 2010, 2015, 2017) and the sectionals three more times (2011, 2012, 2016) with a close 1-0 loss last season to Greeneville in the state semifinals.
Region newcomer Murfreesboro Central Magnet has made the region semifinals every season from 2011-2016 including a 19-1 2014 campaign, neighboring county rival Spring Hill has made three sectional contests and one (2014) state tournament appearance in the past decade, and finally ultimate rival Giles County finished 2017 with 14 wins before losing 5-1 in the AA sectionals to eventual champion White House.
The 2017 Marshall County team won just two games despite returning a large chunk of players that combined for 20 total wins over the previous two seasons, but lost five games by just three goals or less.
The 2018 version of the Tigerettes started off with a tough draw trying to improve on those two wins with a visit from Giles County.
Marshall County has not sniffed a win over the Bobcats since a 4-1 loss in 2014 and unfortunately, this season would not be the year to get over the Giles County hump.
After scoring the first goal in the contest the Tigerettes gave up 11 straight scores to the visitors from Pulaski and the game was called after just halftime.
"I think we just need to learn from our mistakes," senior captain Jenna Cheatham said. "We have a lot of new people on the team who really don't know a whole lot about soccer but we're just taking it step by step."
"Every loss is still a gain for us because we're learning from it and we're not going to make the same mistakes again."
The season started off with a bang for the Tigerettes as senior offensive powerhouse Patience Ferguson, who came into the season with 36 career goals, needed just a minute and a half to take a Lisa Alcala pass and score number 37 to give Marshall County an early 1-0 edge.
"We worked hard and did what we practiced on yesterday," Ferguson explained. "We executed the play that was called and we got a goal out of it and I'm proud of what we did to start the game. There was much effort put out there tonight."
The early Tigerettes’ goal did little to intimidate the Bobcat squad and Giles County midfielder Allie Toone tied the game at 1-1 just three minutes after the Ferguson goal.
The Bobcats took the lead for good at the 33:34 mark as forward Addie Lake beat the Tigerette goal keeper for the 2-1 advantage.
The barrage of Giles County goals continued with a Tori Drocea score at the 29:30 mark and just over a minute later Drocea scored again to give the Bobcats a 4-1 lead with just over 11 minutes off the game clock.
"We came in knowing they were a good, strong team," Ferguson pointed out. "I think after their first goal we kind of got overwhelmed. We've got a lot of freshman and a lot of younger players getting their first action. We're starting off new."
"But we've got a lot of talent on this team and we're going to get better day by day," Ferguson added. "We've shown improvement (in the preseason) and I think by the end of the season we'll be fine."
The Bobcats continued with the offensive show, scoring six more goals in a matter of 20 minutes before junior midfielder Breanna Huckaba scored the final goal at the 8:12 mark.
And although the Tigerettes started the year with a 10 goal loss, Cheatham, one of three senior captains, was quick to point out that there were still good moments to take away from the game.
"We had a freshman (Alcala) assist that first goal that we got tonight and I was really impressed by that because she had a cross and we got a goal out of it," Cheatham said. "I just wasn't expecting that so quickly from someone new to the team. I was really impressed with her effort and mental prowess on that play."
The Tigerettes will have little time to dwell on the loss with the unusual start of four straight district games with the second being a powerful Spring Hill at home on Thursday before road matches with Tullahoma and Central Magnet next week.
But to have any kind of success in 2018 the Tigerettes will have to prepare and improve on their own strengths and weaknesses instead of worrying about the stature of the next juggernaut district opponent.
"We don't really focus on who we're playing next," Cheatham mentioned. "We're trying to prepare for the game itself. We're going to play the best that we can, win or lose."
"I think our effort is most important," Cheatham continued. "We're really trying to be a more offensive minded team because we really lacked in that department last season. So we've got to do the basics….connect our passes, push the ball forward and get good shots."