By ZACH BIRDSONG
Trailing 2-0 with just over 24 minutes left in regulation on Thursday, the Tullahoma girls soccer team needed a monumental rally in order to capture the inaugural Coffee Cup.
That’s precisely what it got as Julia Duncan, Cassidy Connor and Allie Kraable all connected for goals in the final minutes of play, notching a 3-2 victory for the Lady Wildcats in front of their home crowd.
After a lackluster first half that saw no scores and very few shots, the scoring got going early in the second half. Jenna Garretson and Allie Amado netted the first pair of goals in the game, giving Coffee County a 2-0 lead with 24:18 remaining in the contest.
From there though, Tullahoma dominated the pace of play, knocking in three goals in the span of 10 minutes to grab the advantage. Duncan scored first, before Connor added her score and Kraable followed with the game-winning goal with 14:41 left on the clock.
“We made an adjustment after they got up 2-0,” said THS Head Coach Marvin Carson. “We said, ‘If we are going to lose 2-0, it’s the same as losing 5-0, so let’s push up and let’s start pressuring them.’ So we did.
“When we scored one, the momentum swung and then all of a sudden, we were on them and then we scored two goals in succession. After that, we just held them off. It was a great game. That’s a good team on the other side and they have a lot of great players.”
For years, the Tullahoma and Coffee County boys soccer teams battled for their own version of the Coffee Cup, however that did not exist on the girls side. After Carson was hired as the new THS head coach in July, he and Lady Raiders Coach David Amado talked and agreed to pitch in on a trophy in order to make it a staple on the girls side.
In the first half, Tullahoma outshot Coffee County 5-1, with only one of those attempts being on target. However, time of possession was quite even as the teams headed to halftime scoreless.
“I think there were a lot of nerves in the first half,” Carson said. “We actually outshot them in the first half, but they seemed like they possessed the ball a little bit better than we did.”
The scoring got started early in the second half, as Coffee County netted a pair of goals and took a 2-0 lead with 24:18 left in the second half. Garretson gave the Lady Raiders the early lead after floating a shot that just went over Tullahoma goalkeeper Kennedy Ortner’s head.
Shortly thereafter, Coffee County added its second goal, this time from Allie Amado. After getting the ball in the middle of the field, she fired a shot that soared over Ortner’s head, making it a 2-0 contest.
Less than three minutes later, Duncan got Tullahoma on the board. After she received a pass from her teammate, Duncan was able to get in front of the Coffee County defenders, firing a shot that found the bottom right corner of the net, making it a 2-1 ballgame with 21:46 left in the contest.
Nearly five minutes later, Connor evened the score at 2. After receiving the ball on the right side of the field, Connor fired off a shot that found the left side of the goal with 16:25 remaining on the clock.
Less than two minutes later, Kraable put Tullahoma in front for the first time all night. From the top of the box in the middle of the field, Kraable put up a shot that found the back of the net, putting the Lady Wildcats up 3-2 with 14:41 left on the clock.
From there, Tullahoma was able to stave off a comeback attempt by the Lady Raiders. The Lady Wildcats outshot Coffee County 8-7 in the second half. Tullahoma had six shots on goal, while Coffee County mustered just five.
The Lady Wildcats (5-2) also extended their win streak to four games. Tullahoma was originally scheduled to take on Central Magnet on Tuesday, but that game was postponed due to rain. Because of that, the Lady Wildcats will have a busy schedule this week as they are slated to play on three-straight days.
Tullahoma opens the week by hosting Lincoln County at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, before welcoming Central Magnet to East Middle School at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. The Lady Wildcats will then travel to Franklin County on Thursday night with kickoff getting underway at 7 p.m.