Demarco Moore, Sports Writer
MANCHESTER, Tenn. — By the time the Coffee County Central High School girls’ soccer team finally got going, it was too little too late against a highly motivated Lincoln County team.
The Lady Raiders got off to a slow start in the first half, fell behind early and came up short in a 5-3 loss to the visiting Lady Falcons on Thursday night in the District 8-AAA championship match.
“We knew that they were gonna’ be ready to play,” said Coffee County head coach David Amado after the match.
Meanwhile, Lincoln County’s Lily Fisk had no such trouble providing enough firepower to help the Lady Falcons capture their third-straight district championship.
Fisk was the only offense either team could muster in the opening half, netting a breakaway goal in the 28th minute for the match’s first score. Her second goal in the 37th minute looked like an easy save for Coffee County goalkeeper Ashley Woods at first, but instead ricocheted off her gloves and gave Lincoln County a 2-0 lead.
“You know [Ashley] is one of the reasons that we’re at this position right now,” Amado explained of the senior goalkeeper.
“When we have a [defensive] breakdown, don’t look at the goalie, but look at what happened five seconds prior to that.
Then you see that two, three, four things happened that could have [been] avoided.”
Lincoln County led 2-0 at halftime, having outshot the Lady Raiders 9-2. Even still, the Lady Raiders at times had plenty of scorers around the ball in front of the net. Amado said his team wasn’t aggressive enough in the first half, so he challenged the Lady Raiders as they huddled around him during the intermission.
“I think during the first half we kind of lost heart a little bit, and we needed Papi’s pep talk at halftime to get us going,” said junior Allie Amado.
“We found the heart and we just tried our best, and that’s all that matters.”
Coffee County found its offensive rhythm as well, and the shots finally started coming in waves.
Reagan Ellison kicked a short pass from the sideline to Amado, who blasted a high-arching shot over the head of Lincoln County goalkeeper Lydia Johnsey that pulled the Lady Raiders within 2-1 in the 50th minute.
However, Emma Womble found the back of the net three minutes later for the Lady Falcons, pushing their lead back to 3-1. Tessa Lewis then broke the match open in the 70th minute, rolling a penalty kick past Woods to put Lincoln County up 4-1.
“The only thing different [in the second half] was as we were getting momentum, then we would have a breakdown on defense,” said coach Amado.
“We score again, and we have another breakdown on defense.”
Freshman Reyna Flores answered Lewis’ goal one minute later with an unassisted goal of her own, cutting the Lady Raiders’ deficit to 4-2 while also keeping their comeback hopes alive. Amado followed up with her second goal of the match, a deep shot from near midfield that came in the 71st minute.
All of sudden, Coffee County had cut a 4-1 deficit down to one goal in the span of two minutes.
“During a game like this – a really close game – scoring a goal is gonna’ always get you going in the right direction, and I think that really helped us get going,” Allie explained.
Emilee Roberson had a great look at the match-tying goal minutes later, but Johnsey made the save of the night, stretching out to knock Roberson’s shot away with her fingertips.
“It would’ve definitely gone in,” Allie said.
“That goalie made an awesome save.”
Instead, Fisk added an insurance goal for Lincoln County in the 75th minute that also helped her complete a hat trick.
With the loss, Coffee County will now travel to face District 7-AAA champion Siegel next week in semifinals of the Region 4-AAA tournament.
After once trailing 1-0, the Lady Stars scored two unanswered goals to defeat Oakland 2-1 in overtime on Thursday night.
And now the Lady Stars will host Coffee County in the region semifinals for a second-straight year. Siegel beat the Lady Raiders 1-0 in 2016.
“They’re a very talented team,” said coach Amado.
“They have a lot of club players. It will be a challenge, but we’re up for a challenge.”
All-District 8-AAA awards
FIRST TEAM: Savannah Wenger (Franklin County), Kimmie Jobe (Columbia), Macy Andrews (Columbia), Karly Simmons (Shelbyville), Maria Grajales (Shelbyville), Lydia Johnsey (Lincoln County), Tessa Lewis (Lincoln County), Alexys Couch (Lincoln County), Samantha Ellison (Coffee County), Morgan Henley (Coffee County), Reyna Flores (Coffee County), Reagan Ellison (Coffee County).
SECOND TEAM: Braya Cherry (Franklin County), Katlyn Cooper (Columbia), Emma Britt (Columbia), Tiffany Taylor (Shelbyville), Julianna Andreas (Shelbyville), Savannah Cox (Lincoln County), Julia Marsh (Lincoln County), Emma Womble (Lincoln County), Ashley Woods (Coffee County), Maggie Lashlee (Coffee County), Maddie Creek (Coffee County), Emilee Roberson (Coffee County).
GOALKEEPER OF THE YEAR: Kelly Denton (Franklin County)
DEFENDER OF THE YEAR: Jenna Garretson (Coffee County)
MIDFIELDER OF THE YEAR: Allie Amado (Coffee County)
FORWARD OF THE YEAR: Lily Fisk (Lincoln County)
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Gracie Morse (Franklin County)
COACH OF THE YEAR: David Amado (Coffee County)
Reach Demarco Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @iam__demo