GRAFTON— Energy and excitement flowed through the air at McKinney Field on Thursday, as the Grafton High School Lady Bearcat soccer team opened their season against a tough and experienced Williamstown team.
At the start of the contest, Grafton struggled a bit to find their rhythm, but according to head coach Lorraine Isner, once the Lady Bearcats got in sync, they were able to play even with the Williamstown Lady Jackets, who brought with them a roster of talent, boasting eight senior players, along with four juniors.
During the first 37 minutes of action, the Lady Jackets were able to find the back of the Lady Bearcats’ net, connecting with a long range shot with just 2:44 left in the half.
“We came out on fire in the second half,” Isner shared.
Just four minutes, in the Lady Bearcats fired back, letting the Williamstown group know that taking the win from them would not be made easy.
“Freshman Hadley Horne, confident and strong on the ball, took space and scored a nice well driven shot past the keeper after possessing the ball past their defenders,” recalled Isner. “She drilled her shot to the back of the net for her first varsity goal.”
Then, just four minutes later, Lady Bearcat Elizabeth Uhl put on a strong defensive showing and won a tackle in the defending half, and found Horne open to receive the pass.
Once in possession, Horne ran hard, navigating the defending Lady Jackets, and went deep into attacking third and drilled the ball once again finding the back of the net, putting Grafton on top 2-1, with 32 minutes remaining in the game.
Over the next 20 minutes, the contest was described as a tough and physical battle and a great display of soccer by both teams.
With the clock winding down, Williamstown scored a long range shot over the keeper and evened things up 2-2.
“At that point, we lost our mental focus and our team chemistry fell apart,” Isner commented. They took the lead 3-2 with 5:28 left in the game and went on to score two more goals. Williamstown played well. They are a disciplined and skilled team. It was a disappointing loss for us, but we are strong and will overcome.”
The Lady Bearcat Junior Varsity team also opened their season this week, and were on the road to take on Buckhannon-Upshur (BU) on Monday.
Coach Isner shared that the contest proved to be a great start for the young team, showcasing aggressive defending and the Lady Bearcat’s ability to create good scoring opportunities.
“We battled hard against a good conference opponent,” she voiced.
BU would be the first to make it on the scoreboard with just nine minutes left in the first half. However, the Lady Bearcats were quick to respond, evening things up with a well-placed ball over the top of the BU keeper that was sent off by Addie Tucker at the start of the second half.
In what was becoming a back-and-forth battle, BU managed to score again, bringing the score to 1-2, but Grafton continued to push with Horne, once again, evening things up with a well driven ball that would connect with the net and bring the game to a close with a 2-2 tie.
“Regan Knight made key saves in the goal, and we defended well to secure the tie,” Isner noted.
The Lady Bearcats were slated to be back in action today at South Harrison, however that match has been canceled.
The team will instead take to the field on Tuesday, August 31 at East Fairmont, at 6:00 p.m.
#00 Keeper Nicole Giles - 11 saves, # 18 Hadley Horne - 2 goals, 5 shots, 4 shots on goal, 1 intercept, # 23 Elizabeth Uhl - 2 shots, 1 shot on goal, # 5 Madison Mayle - 1 shot, 2 steals, #6 MacKenzie Hunter - 1 shot, #21 Mara Griffith - 1 intercept , #8 Mattie Flohr - 1 steal, #13 Brenna Wilson- 1 steal
Lady Bearcats: 2 goals, 9 shots, 6 shots on goal, 4 steals, 2 intercepts, 5 corners, 11 saves
Williamstown: 6 goals, 26 shots, 17 shots on goal, 5 corners, 4 saves
JV Team Stats: Goals:2, Shots:14, Shots on Goal:8, Steals: 15, Intercepts:8, Corners:4