Columbia’s Makenna Loveless attempts to clear the ball away from Columbia’s goal while Lady Raider Jessica Barrera (no. 12) slides through the mud to stop her Tuesday night, Oct. 10. The Lady Raiders beat Columbia 4-2 to advance to the District 8-AAA title game. (Staff photo by Josh Peterson)

By Josh Peterson, publisher Once Coffee County settled into its style of play, everything fell into place at Tuesday’s District 8-AAA semi-final match in Manchester. Trailing 2-1, the Central High School Lady Raider soccer team scored 3 unanswered goals in the final 64 minutes of the game to drop the Columbia Lady Lions 4-2 and advance to the District 8-AAA championship game against Lincoln County (6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12). “We started passing the ball and started playing our game,” explained CHS head coach David Amado of his team’s run after falling behind 2-1. “We can’t do that running game. We are a possession team and once we started doing that it got better for us.” Early in the first half Coffee County was putting more shots on goal than Columbia, but the Lady Lions’ shot placement was nearly perfect, scoring twice on just four shots on goal. The first came on a Meredith Coffie free kick in the 11th minute. “She was just able to get that kick up high  and it was hard to get to,” explained Amado. Coffee County answered when Jessica Barrera found the back of the net with 26:31 remaining in the half; but Columbia needed just 23 seconds to answer on a long shot by Macy Andrews to take a 2-1 lead. But from there it was all Lady Raiders. Sam Ellison tied the game for Coffee County with 24 minutes left in the first half and Emilee Roberson cleaned up a rebound from a free kick to give Coffee County its first lead at 3-2 with 9 minutes left in the first half. Lady Raider junior Allie Amado gave CHS a much-needed insurance goal seven minutes into the second half when she quickly fired off a shot

Coffee County’s Reagan Ellison (no. 4) keeps Columbia’s Katlyn Cooper away from the ball while advancing down the field in Coffee County’s 4-2 win Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Josh Peterson)

through traffic and into the corner of the net. The goal came just seconds after Amado reentered the game – she had left early in the first half with an injury. “She had a knee issue,” explained coach Amado. “Jason, our trainer, he iced it for her and got her calmed down and we put her in as soon as we could and thankfully she got us a goal.” Columbia attempted a late rally with a good look at the goal with 2:52 to play, but a diving save by CHS goalkeeper Ashley Woods squashed the chance and preserved the 4-2 score. “[Woods] saved us there on that shot [late in the second half],” said Amado. The win advances Coffee County to host Lincoln County at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the District 8-AAA championship game. The two teams split in their regular season games – with Lincoln County winning in Manchester 3-1 and Coffee County winning in Fayetteville 3-0. Coffee County’s win at Lincoln County was the Lady Falcons’ first home loss since 2014. “I’m sure they will come in here with a chip on their shoulder Thursday after we won down there,” said Amado. “But we will be ready.”