Steady pressure helps Westview advance to district championship
Stephanie Sturgis - Press Sports Editor
The Lady Chargers shut down the Peabody Lady Golden Tide's best offensive weapon — LaQuita Luten — and got two goals from Evelyn Daniel on the way to a 3-0 victory in the tournament semifinals Tuesday night at the MTD Soccer Complex in Martin.
"I was very happy with the way we took care of the ball tonight. Peabody had very few opportunities to score and we had some we should have scored on," Westview head soccer coach Stan Vickers said.
The victory sets up the tournament championship game with Westview taking on the district's top seed — the Dyersburg Lady Trojans. The game was originally scheduled for Thursday night at the Lady Chargers' home field, but rain has moved the game back to 4 on Saturday afternoon. Dyersburg defeated the Gibson County Lady Pioneers, 5-0, in the other semifinal game on Tuesday night.
"We've got a hill to climb on Thursday night, but I think we played one of our better games tonight," Vickers said.
On a night when the Westview defense pitched a shutout, even the first Lady Charger goal came on a defensive play. Following a WHS corner kick which was controlled by the Peabody defense, a Lady Tide defender was lackadaisical in dribbling the ball out of the penalty box. Daniel surprised everyone when she stepped in front of the Tide defender, stole the ball away and let loose a quick hard shot past the PHS keeper for a 1-0 Westview lead with 30 minutes still to play in the first half.
Westview kept the ball in the midfield and its offensive end through the remainder of the first 40 minutes.
Peabody's best chance at a goal in the game came in the final two minutes of the first half. The Lady Tide moved into attack mode and fired a low shot from the right. WHS keeper Macy Vincent dove and stopped the initial Tide shot. After the save, the ball rolled away from Vincent and was available in front of an open Westview goal before Lady Charger senior defender Laura Gullett stepped in and cleared the loose ball to preserve the shutout.
"That was unbelievable. I thought for sure they had scored, but Laura came through and played awesome. In just her second year in soccer, she's been a big surprise for us to have learned the game as quickly as she has," the WHS coach said.
In the second half, the Lady Chargers continued to pepper the Peabody goal with shots. That continual pressure finally paid off when Melissa Johnson made a quick move with the ball down the middle of the field and got enough clearance from her defender to let loose a hard, waist-high shot that eluded the keeper and doubled the Westview lead to 2-0 with 34:25 left to play in the game.
Fourteen minutes later, Daniel was leaping in the air to take in a pass when a Lady Tide defender crashed into her just outside the penalty box. The foul resulted in a direct kick from the top left which Daniel boomed over the outstretched arms of the keeper and just under the crossbar into the opposite right corner for a 3-0 Lady Charger lead.
While the WHS offense was continually trying to add to its lead, Peabody's Luten was frustrated by the defensive efforts of juniors Nada Hussein and Nicole Drake.
"No matter which side they put (Luten) on, our defense didn't make a mistake. Both Nada and Nicole did a great job," Vickers noted.
The win improved Westview's season record to 11-4.