Sarah Slusher scored three goals, Katlyn Barnwell and Katrina Turner added two each and the Middlesboro Lady Jackets pulled away for a 10-0 win over Bell County.
The Lady Cats are a inexperienced group and this was the first game for a lot of their players. They competed hard and trailed just 4-0 at halftime. There was 6:16 left in the second half when the game was called due to the mercy rule.
“They’ve got a lot of heart and a lot of aggressiveness. For this to be the first game ever for a lot of them, I’m really pleased,” Lady Cat coach Brandy Sweat said. “I’ve got no complaints. They went out there and had fun and played hard. It took them all game to mercy us instead of just a half and I’m okay with that.”
Senior Katyln Barnwell opened the scoring with goal at the 36 minute mark of the first half but it would take another ten minutes for the Lady Cats to find the net again.
“I was a little upset at first because we were trying to work on some specific things with our game and they turned their heads to that and were doing something else,” MHS coach Jeff Sorke said. “Once we settled down from that and started passing the ball a little better we kind of did what we wanted to.”
Slusher, a sophomore scored her first goal on an assists from Hannah Sorke with about 26 minutes left in the half. A little later Barnwell stole a ball in Lady Cats half of the field and took it in for her second goal.
Sorke found Johnson with a cross from the left side of the box and the Lady Jacket went up 4-0 with 13:20 to play in the half.
Bell County junior keeper Ashley Sweat came up big on several occassions. She had 15 saves in the first half and finished with 23 for the match, including stopping a penalty kick from Barnwell midway through the second half.
“She had such a good game,” coach Sweat said of her keeper. “She’s got her work cut out for her because I graduated just about all of my girls from last year and some other first-year players that didn’t come back out. It’s definitely a rebuilding year and there’s only four five girls that have played before.”
Slusher scored twice more in the second half and Lindsey Johnson banged in a rebound off a corner kick. Trixie Capps, Turner and Tori Lowrence also had goals to round out the scoring. Sorke had three assists in the match.
“I’m glad Bell County has got the numbers and were able to play us. I’m really big on this area: Claiborne High School, Cumberland Gap High School, Bell and us. I’d really like to see all of our programs strong and represent this area in Kentucky and Tennessee better than we ever have,” Sorke said. “I’m real proud of Brandy’s girls, that they’re out here trying. They didn’t have any quit in them. We’ll get to play them again later in the season and I’m sure they’ll be improved quite a bit by then.”
Both teams return to action on Thursday when Middlesboro (1-2) will visit Claiborne, Tenn., and Bell County (0-1) hosts Oneida Baptist.