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Lady Trojans outlast Kingsburg in district opener, Arlington too much in Semifinals

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Soccer Dawn Taylor

Millington Lady Trojan Jamie Neville gains the advantage on the ball last week against Kingsbury.

Millington Lady Trojan Jamie Neville gains the advantage on the ball last week against Kingsbury.

Soccer Nicole Dunn

BARTLETT — The Kingsbury Lady Falcons were ready to give the higher seeded Millington Lady Trojans their best shot.
And the Lady Falcons were keeping pace in the first round contest of the District 14-3A Soccer Tournament in Bartlett with the score 0-0 at halftime.
Maybe it was a combination of Kingsbury hustle and the date on the calendar Oct. 14 that kept the Lady Trojans in neutral.
“Mondays are bad days for Trojans,” Millington Head Coach Larry Dagen said. “We need a day of warming up and coaching screaming at you for a while. That’s what we needed.”
The Lady Trojans woke up in time to advance to a Tuesday match-up with No. 1 seeded Arlington Lady Tigers beating Kingsbury 2-0.
“In that first half, we had probably 20 shots,” Dagen said. “We were too wide, shooting over. We did everything. We made a lot of things happen but probably got frustrated there a little bit.”
Several Lady Trojans were able to fire shots at the goal in the first 40 minutes coming up empty. Jamie Neville had a clear look that the Kingsbury keeper was able to snatch out of midair.
Iris Reyes used her dribbling skills to get three shots on goal, each one finding the gloves of the Lady Falcon goalie. Asha Burks, known for the strongest leg on Millington, fired two shots heard across the Bartlett Soccer Complex.
One hit the crossbar and the other slammed off the keeper’s hands.
And Lady Trojan Nicole Dunn had a couple of opportunities in the first half yielding no points.
But that would change early in the second half. With the defensive line of Kelcie Johnson, Chablei Brooks, Jacey Thompson, Corina Nichols and Jamie Neville clearing the ball, Dunn found herself with possession and ahead of the field.
Dunn collected the ball and located her target. With a poised kick, Dunn scored the first goal of the game giving Millington a 1-0 advantage.
“I was happy because I know the team worked really hard for it,” Dunn said of the goal. “We deserve that goal.”
Then it was time protect that goal. The Lady Trojans tried to use passing and possession to eat up the clock. Millington goalie Emily Stewart had to make a few saves to preserve the narrow lead.
“I was praying we didn’t have a lot of time left in the game and get that last one in to give us a nice win,” Dunn said about the final 5 minutes.
With less than 5 minutes remaining in the game, Reyes dribbled the ball up the sideline and first a pass to Dunn.
Dunn gathered the ball and noticed she didn’t have a clear shot on goal. She crossed the ball to junior Devin McSwain. From there, McSwain took advantage of her angle and score the insurance goal making the score 2-0.
“There in the second half we had two wonderful goals,” Dagen said. “They played very well with touches and passes. Nicole did a great job on that turn. She took a look and didn’t have a shot. Put the ball out there to Devin. And Devin calmly hit the shot into the net. Nicole did the same thing on her goal.
“If we’re looking at one of the most improved players in the past four years, it has to be Nicole,” he added. “Her touch is wonderful in the middle. One time, hit it strike and score, she can do that. She showed us something new today. She put the ball on the backside. There she was wide open.”
Dunn, a senior, said she’s happy to get past Monday and play another game.
“It feels good to advance,” she said. “Kingsbury really stepped it up tonight. They were putting a lot of pressure on the ball. It was a really tough. Our defense did well and Emily did real well. I’m glad they held it together back there.”
Dagen said it’s going to take all 11 on the field to step up their efforts in the Arlington contest to advance to the district title game and advance to Regionals.
“We’re going to come out here and I’m going to tell them to play as physical as they ever played,” he said. “Arlington and none of those teams are unbeatable. “The teams we lost to this year, Arlington, Bolton and Bartlett and we lost handily to them,” Dagen concluded. “But we played a heck of a game against team. The scores didn’t indicate how well we played.”
Arlington advance with a win over Millington.

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