By ZACH BIRDSONG
Putting up an early first-half goal, the Wildcats closed out the match with three scores in the second half on their way to a strong 4-0 home victory over Lead Academy on Thursday night.
Tullahoma (7-1-1, 3-1) additionally picked up a 1-0 road win over District 8-AAA opponent Lincoln County on Tuesday night. With the pair of the wins, the Wildcats have now won six matches in a row, allowing just one score in that time period, a penalty kick in a 6-1 win over Lawrence County on April 7.
Four minutes into play on Thursday against Lead Academy, Tullahoma connected for its first goal as Tom Ellis found the back of the net. After getting the pass from Hudson Schaefer, Ellis scored giving the Wildcats a 1-0 edge.
“We scored five minutes into the game and then started getting complacent,” said THS Head Coach Richie Chadwick. “Our big thing is we don’t want to play pickup. When it’s a match, play like it’s a game and not like a pickup game. It just seemed that we were just lackadaisical.
“They [Lead Academy] hardly had any shots in the second half but they had a lot of shots in the first half. They had maybe one inside the 18 [yards], but they had several from 25 out just because we weren’t closing down.”
Coming out of the halftime break, Tullahoma took control and added another score 10 minutes into the second period. Chase Farler put up the first of his two goals after receiving a pass from Matthew Fearing. The play started as Caden Throneberry laid off a pass to Fearing who found Farler to notch the score, making it a 2-0 ballgame.
Fifteen minutes later, Fearing netted a score, putting the Wildcats up 3-0. After receiving the pass from Throneberry, Fearing capitalized in the middle of the box, finding the bottom left corner of the net.
With 10 minutes remaining in the contest, Farler put up his second score of the game. After getting to the ball in the middle of the box, Farler battled a defender and Lead Academy’s goalkeeper, putting the ball into the right side of the net, allowing his team to go ahead 4-0.
“At halftime, we gave them coaching points and we reminded them about our next game,” Chadwick said. “Right now, unless we are able to reschedule some of our rainouts, our next game is against Coffee County, so we wanted to have a good second half. They did that and played really well. We had some really good combinatiosn on the goals.
“We felt like the in the first half that we should have had better shots on frame. To close out the game with three goals like that in the second half, it was nice. You’ve got to think too, since spring break, we’ve only allowed one goal and that was on a PK. That’s pretty nice.”
On Tuesday in Fayetteville, Tullahoma and Lincoln County battled in a scoreless first half, before the Wildcats put up the only score after the Falcons allowed an own goal midway through the second period. Casen Connor hit a cross that was headed by Throneberry, but the ball deflected off of a defender and into the back of the net for the own goal.
“What was great was that next-man up philosophy,” Chadwick said. “We had two main starters out and still had some guys coming back who were nursing injuries and we held on. Lincoln County had a lot of domination in the middle third of the field, but in the final third, we were outstanding and so was [THS goalkeeper] Michael [Duncan]. So we had to put some guys in different positions and they all stepped up.”
Tullahoma will next travel to take on Coffee County Central for the annual Coffee County Cup on Friday. The Red Raiders have held on to the cup the last three seasons, including winning last year in a back-and-forth 4-3 victory. Kickoff on Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m.