The Russell County Middle School girls’ soccer program picked up its first-ever conference tournament victory on Friday.
The Lady Lakers defeated North Laurel 3-2 to seal the historic win and also advance to the conference finals to face a familiar foe, the Wayne County Lady Cardinals.
RCMS started the match out strong, with Addison Coffey scoring the first goal and Madison Weisbrodt scoring another on a penalty shot in the first half.
Adriana Thomas scored the team’s third and final goal in the second half to secure the 3-2 win for RCMS.
Head coach Cheryl Newby credited a practice the day before the match — and her players’ ability to execute the game plan — for helping the team win.
“We played them earlier in our season and won easily (by a score of 10-0), but that was not the case this game,” Newby said. “They had prepared to attack our weakness, which is our back line, but after some time working with our defense at Thursday’s practice, (RCMS’ players) seemed to be picking up the double team and backup concept against attackers. Our forwards and midfielders started out strong, stayed focused, and made smart choices for most of the game.
“I didn’t expect it to be as close of a game as it turned out to be, but I’m super proud of my team for using the tools we worked on in one short practice. In return, this gave them their well-earned and deserved first-ever conference win to advance them to the finals.”
Goalkeeper Jasmine Bennett recorded five saves of shots on goal and, according to Newby, “several more running out and in the box.”
“Jasmine had a bit of an off night starting out, but as usual, she always seems to bounce back,” Newby said, “and in the second half, she stopped several shots attempted at our goal.”
In only its fourth year as a program, RCMS has already reached heights it never has. By defeating Meece Middle School in the district semifinals last week, the Lady Lakers — who finished in third place in the district last season — earned their first-ever trip to the conference finals.
With a win on Tuesday, the Lady Lakers will add another achievement to their young résumé: conference champs.
But first, they have to go through Wayne County, the team that defeated RCMS in the conference finals and who has beaten the Lady Lakers three times this season.
“Expectations for our team heading in to our final game of the season versus Wayne County would be to apply more pressure to their strong front line and be more aggressive,” Newby said. “I think that’s the difference between us and Wayne. They have won every time we have played them this season … This final game makes our fourth time, and I will be working on what we need to do to bring home that conference title.”
The conference final is set for tomorrow, Tuesday May 17, at North Laurel at 5:30 p.m. Central Time.