Loudon High School’s girls soccer team won the District 4-1A regular season title Thursday with a 4-1 win at Sweetwater High School.
Though Sam Harrison, LHS head girls soccer coach, said he was not pleased with the performance, the Lady Redskins did enough to win their fifth district game of five for the second year running, securing a No. 1 seed for the upcoming district tournament.
Harrison attributed some of the blame for the subpar showing to the week’s busy schedule, which saw Loudon defeat district opponent Sale Creek High School 5-0 two days earlier in a much better display. He said he could tell his players were still coming down from that high and were also tired from the previous day’s practice.
“We didn’t show up tonight,” Harrison said. “They’re tired, we’ve had a tough week, … but they’re much better off than we were at the beginning of the season. So happy for the girls because that secured our No. 1 spot in the district. We went undefeated again this year in the district, and so we’ll take our small victories where we can.”
Loudon had a slow start against Sweetwater and spent much of the opening minutes inside their own half.
On their first real attack, however, the Lady Redskins got the opening goal. Senior Kaela Correa picked up the ball only a few yards inside Sweetwater’s half and dribbled past a number of opposition players before emphatically slamming the opener into the top corner to put her team 1-0 up seven minutes in.
While Loudon did enough to prevent any real opportunities from the hosts, the Lady Redskins’ attack struggled to come up with meaningful chances. Forwards squandered the few chances they did get by either shooting straight at the keeper or off the woodwork, and it was not until the half-hour mark Loudon scored again.
The security goal came when sophomore Amyia Langley was fouled in the middle of the Sweetwater half. The free-kick seemed too far for a direct attempt, but, perhaps expecting a lofted ball into Loudon’s forwards, the Sweetwater goalkeeper stepped off her line in anticipation. Sophomore Alyssa Hout spotted the error and made her pay, sending it straight over the keeper’s head and just under the crossbar for a 2-0 advantage.
The score remained the same until halftime, when Harrison shared his frustration with his team despite the scoreline. The second half saw some improvement as the Lady Redskins came out strong to score a third goal within a minute, but the same slow pace soon resumed and issues remained with creating and converting big chances.
“Sometimes at halftime when you express that disappointment, it kind of spurs them on, speeds them up a little bit,” Harrison said. “They made the adjustment, but it still wasn’t where we wanted to be. … Sometimes when you have that kind of game, that kind of lethargic play is contagious.”
Loudon got the final goal on the hour mark when sophomore Destiny Robinette raced onto a through ball and converted on the second attempt. Up 4-0, Harrison decided to rest several players and experiment with positions and second stringers. With a couple of injury worries, he said it was important everybody stay fit and healthy going into the final weeks ahead of the district tournament.
Sweetwater got a late consolation goal with just over a minute left, but it made no difference in the outcome. As the referee blew the final whistle, Loudon players celebrated their second consecutive regular season title and No. 1 seed, after achieving the feat for the first time last year.
Harrison said he was pleased with the achievement and the advantage it would give his team to play the remainder of their games at home, but he was wary of the outcome should they play the same way come tournament time.
The District 4-1A tournament will begin Oct. 10, but Loudon will get a bye for the first round by virtue of the No. 1 seed. The Lady Redskins will host the winner of the quarterfinal between the still to be determined No. 4 and 5 seeds Oct. 11.
Loudon closes out the regular season with non-district games against the Knoxville Ambassadors and Pigeon Forge High School at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and 6 p.m. Thursday, respectively, at home.