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Magical season ends for Lady Tigers

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By Goose Lindsay, Sports Editor

 

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The most successful season in Rockwood Lady Tiger soccer history ended in the most heartbreaking loss in history Tuesday evening as Gatlinburg-Pittman downed Wes Ford’s squad in a penalty kicks shootout in the semifinals round of the District 4-A/AA Tournament.

The two teams were tied 3-3 at the end of regulation. Neither team scored in the first 20-minute overtime then neither team scored in what would be a 10-minute sudden death overtime. That’s when the game went to penalty kicks, and that’s where the Lady Highlanders flexed their muscle, winning 4-1 to take the victory and advance to Thursday’s District 3-A/AA Championship Game at Grace Christian Academy.

Tuesday’s contest basically featured two rallies that left the teams tied at the end of regulation.

In the first half, Gatlinburg-Pittman was the aggressor for the first 10 minutes of play as they had everyone up in an effort to overwhelm Rockwood with numbers on the offensive end. The Lady Highlanders did have a couple of good shots on goal, but both were saved by Darian Green.

By playing so many players up on offense, the Lady Highlanders set them up for counter attacks from Rockwood and the Lady Tigers took advantage with three goals in a span of nine minutes.

The first goal came in the 12th minute when Katy Cisson made a great pass to speedy Chelsea Cheek. Cheek split a pair of Lady Highlander defenders in receiving the pass then beat the goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.

The second goal game seven minutes later when Blayke Kelly came up with a steal and then made a nice pass to Lexie Hill, who put it home for a 2-0 lead.

Two minutes later, Hill broke free through the Lady Highlanders defense and fed the ball to Cisson, who put it home for a 3-0 lead.

The final 19 minutes of the half would see both teams have some good opportunities to score, but neither could find the back of the net as the Lay Tigers took a 3-0 lead into intermission.

Rockwood held that 3-0 lead throughout the first 18 minutes of the second half, but then things suddenly turned.

In the 19th minute, Gatlinburg-Pittman scored to make it 3-1.

Two minutes later, Cisson went down with an injury. The injury seemed to stun the Lady Tigers momentarily as the Lady Highlanders scored seconds after play resumed to make the score 3-2. Then in the following minute, Gatlinburg-Pittman scored again as suddenly the score was tied at 3-3.

The Lady Highlanders held the momentum for the next 10 minutes, putting five shots on goal, but they were unable to take the lead.

The final six minutes of regulation were packed with excitement. Rockwood had two good scoring chances, one came from Hill in front and another came on a long shot by Cisson, but neither would score.

Gatlinburg-Pittman also had some great chances as they had one shot go off the post while Green made a diving stop on another shot in the closing minutes of the second half.

The first overtime period was much like the final minutes as both teams had opportunities, but neither could score.

Rockwood made two great plays defensively in the first overtime. One was a diving save by Green and the other was a great play by Shelbey Brackett, who deflected away a shot that was sure to give the Lady Highlanders the lead after Green had slipped and was out of the play.

Rockwood also had a great scoring chance in the first overtime when Chelsea Johnson boomed a long kick that was out of the reach of the goalkeeper, but the ball ricocheted off the top of the post and over the net.

There wasn’t a lot of scoring opportunities in the second overtime and that led to the winner-take-all penalty kick shootout. Gatlinburg-Pittman would win the shootout, 4-1, to pick up the victory.

Rockwood ended the season with a school record 16 wins against only three losses. The Lady Tigers had won nine straight games before Tuesday’s loss.