“They didn’t play bad, but they definitely could have played better,” Sylacauga head coach Morgan Haney said. “We need to work on finishing. That’s basically it. We had so many opportunities, but we couldn’t capitalize on them and put more goals in. It was only 3-0, but that didn’t show for how we played I think. We also need to possess it more and just settle the ball down and play more, but overall we got a win.”
The game got off to a slow start. Neither team could seem to get many good shots on the goal. Nearly 15 minutes into the game, Sylacauga seemed to score a goal but Talladega’s Haley Bowman was down with an injury and was unable to return to the game. The referee stopped the game before the goal was scored. Bowman made a number of clearing kicks when Sylacauga had made progress on offense previously in the game.
Sylacauga threatened to score again at 16:39, but Talladega goalkeeper Jasmine McKenzie came out to make an aggressive save.
Sylacauga continued to possess the ball on offense. 20 minutes into the game, Rachel White crossed the ball from the left end of the field to teammate Shelby Sorensen on the right side, but Sorensen’s shot sailed over the goal.
At the 37:32 mark, Sylacauga scored their first goal of the game when Sarah Donahoo shot past midfield with a burst of energy, made it past a Talladega defender and placed her shot perfectly into the left corner of the net while shooting from the right side of the field.
Sylacauga came out aggressive to start the second half. Only 4:11 in, and they scored a second goal. Again, it was Donahoo on a similar play as her first goal. She charged past midfield, made it past a Talladega defender and this time packed a hard shot that never left the ground into the left side of the net from the right side of the field.
Sylacauga’s aggressiveness was due in part to Haney’s halftime advice.
“Because Talladega packed the box and they had a lot of players in the middle of the field, we talked about playing our flanks more so that we could get more crosses in,” Haney said. “So, that’s what we started doing and it started working better because when we were trying to dribble down the field we would give possession up but we held possession more in the second half because we utilized our outside mids more.”
Sylacauga made a strong threat to score again at 14:10, when Sorensen made another charge with the ball but this time Shemeshia Truss cleared the ball.
At 22:32, Sylacauga scored the third goal of the game. Sorensen made an assist with a cross to Alondra Clarke, who stretched out her right leg to connect with the pass and hit the ball into the left end of the net. McKenzie got a hand on it, but the powerful kick made its way into the net.
Despite the loss, Talladega head coach Hillary Hathcox was pleased with her team’s effort.
“We played really hard,” Hathcox said. “Our defense was really good, especially on the right side. We pretty much dominated on the right side. We’ve just got to make sure that we do the same on the left. My goalie did great—Jasmine McKenzie. She’s a first year goalie. She’s really stepped it up for us this season. We’ve got some things to work on. We play Sylacauga again. We’re just going to take this and learn from it. We’ve got to just communicate a little better and we’re going to have a pretty good rest of the season.”