By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Harding Academy Stadium was buzzing as both teams took shot after shot. Under the lights, both goalies were locked in stopping potential game-winners. The final chance to break the deadlock between the West Region foes came off the foot of TRA Lady Rebel Brianna Hall.
The junior launched as shot prior to the final horn. As the buzzer sounded, the ball trickled just beyond the interior of the net. The final score was Harding Academy 1, Tipton-Rosemark Academy 1.
“We came away with looking at, it’s always better to win instead of tie,” TRA Head Coach Stephen Starnes said, “we looked really good adjusting our offense halfway through. Our players really stepped up. Alicia Gutierrez really stepped up passing the ball for me. Bri can score the ball at will. I was really proud of all the girls for moving and being able to adjust at their new positions.”
The Lady Rebels needed to adjust because the Lady Lions took the lead a the 7:04 mark on a penalty kick. Prior to the 1-0 Harding Academy lead, both teams possessed the ball equally.
Then the Lady Lions dominated the tempo of action the final 10 minutes of the first half. Harding had more shots on goal and dominated the possession time.
At halftime the Lady Rebels made a few adjustments to benefit the offense. Starnes didn’t want to tweak the defense too much.
“I had one of my captains Jozie Daniels on the back row,” Starnes said. “I had Taylor Biggs and Zoe Jones started tonight. Meg Fullen went in for her. All four of those ladies did wonderful tonight. We adjust some players Alissa started in the back but I move Myah (Wright) into the back tonight. She had never played it before and they didn’t score one goal on her tonight.”
The defense’s effort paid off when TRA started to possess the ball more in the second half. Gutierrez moved toward the middle of the field dribbling the ball to set up strikers.
Hall was located around the 20:40 mark of the second half. About three seconds later Hall connected with a shot to deadlock the game at 1-1.
Never team was able to break the tied and the West Region foes left the Harding Academy Stadium neither defeated or victorious.
Prior to the showdown, Harding Academy picked up a win on the road against the Millington Lady Trojans 6-1. Meanwhile the Lady Rebels were looking for something positive to build from.
“I don’t mind bringing up our last two games,” Starnes said. “We played USJ and Trinity. Both great teams with great coaches from Jackson. USJ came down and did a number on us. That really got my girls down after we had a dominant win over Millington as well.
“You have a high point and low point,” he concluded. “We took a tough one to Trinity. Then we come out here and my girls knew they had to be first to the ball, run to the ball, possess the ball and they scored will. They knew it was going to be a sprint race tonight.”