Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Girls soccer: Newsome's dramatic winner topples Durant

DURANT — With less than two minutes remaining in a tie game, Durant appeared on the verge of hanging the first blemish on Newsome's perfect record.

The Wolves Shayna Zajac, though, wasn't about to give up on her dream of an undefeated season.

The sophomore lined up a 35-yard free kick and lofted a high, arcing shot over Durant goalkeeper Sam Wenrich for her second goal of the night in a dramatic 2-1 Newsome victory.

"I was nervous. I thought (the free kick) was going to go over. I was trying to shoot, and if it didn't go, hopefully have someone get a head on it," Zajac said. "Three years ago, (Newsome) was undefeated and made it all the way to states. I wasn't there because I wasn't in high school yet, so I'm just trying to do it again."

In the 21st minute, Durant (6-3, 1-3) had its first scoring opportunity cleared away from the open goal at the last moment by Wolves' sweeper Taylor McNeff.

Newsome (12-0, 4-0), which has outscored opponents 59-4 this season, hit the crossbar twice in a scoreless first half.

"Durant's defense saved them four or five times in the first half," Newsome coach Kelly Townsend said.

In the 53rd minute, Zajac finally put a shot into the back of the net, another long-distance looping shot that tucked inside the far upper corner of the goal.

"I was trying to pass that, but it ended up going in," Zajac said.

Durant tied it in the 69th minute when Morgan Jones controlled the rebound on a blocked shot attempt and shot into the open goal.

"You hate to lose on a dead ball," Durant coach Dick Sheffield said.

In the boys game, Newsome salvaged a 2-2 tie against the Cougars on a late-minute, 30-yard free kick from Connor Fitzgerald. Freshman Jesus Pina had both goals for Durant (6-2-2, 2-0-2), which led 2-1 at halftime and saw goalkeeper Logan Whitney save a penalty kick in the second half. Jacob Chadwell had the game's first goal in the 18th minute to give Newsome (7-2-2, 3-0-1) an early 1-0 lead.

Gaither girls fall to Mitchell

TRINITY — For a district filled with competitive teams, Mitchell has made taking the top seed in 4A-8 look easy. The Mustangs improved to 13-0 Friday, clinching the No. 1 spot for the district tournament with a 3-0 win over Gaither.

Gaither never had possession of the ball inside the Mitchell penalty box, all three of its shots were from long distance and the Cowboys had no corner kicks.

Mitchell freshman Sabrina Wagner scored her 18th this season, slipping in behind the defense unmarked in the 12th minute. Taylor Meek had two goals, both assisted by Wagner.

Gaither (4-4-2) was two starting defenders and its No. 1 goalkeeper, though Nicole Hoban acquitted herself well with seven saves. She got some help in the second half. Rachel Yoder and Lauren Gold both saved balls off the goal line.

"The subs played out of their minds," Gaither coach Trevor Scott said.

Some players got on-the-job instruction on defense. On the handful of occasions a midfielder had a chance to spring a forward on goal, there was hesitation and usually Antonia Lowden and Brooke Snell were there to end the threat.

The Cowboys had to gut out illnesses and injuries, including central defender Hailey Knowles, perhaps their best player. Fellow captain Katelyn McHenry, who had two of Gaither's three shots, had her asthma flare up forcing a pair of 10-minute breaks.

The Cowboys have two losses (the other to Freedom) and a tie (Sickles) in district play. Spots two through five, with Wiregrass Ranch the other team in the running, are up for grabs.

Scott sounded confident afterward, even saying "see you in the playoffs" to the Mitchell coaches.

It will help to be at full strength, which Scott said the Cowboys would be come district time.

"Without a doubt I'd like our chances against them," he said. "They didn't blow us out. I realize they didn't play everyone the whole way but I thought our effort was great. I can't complain."

Darek Sharp, Times correspondent

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