Just five minutes into the second half, Republic’s Anna Jones scored a goal that seemed, momentarily, to give the top-seeded Lady Tigers all the momentum in their district championship game. But Jones’ equalizer ended up being the high-water mark for Republic, and just eight minutes later, #3 seed Central took the lead for good, holding on for a 2-1 win and a district championship.
“We worked so hard, came out of the gate really fired up, and we were playing so well at the beginning of that second half. We tied it up and felt like we had momentum on our side and we just had to continue to stay with it,” said coach Kevin Hauck. “But once we tied it up, it just seemed like our energy level dropped again and we were laying back off, whereas up to that point, the pressure was what helped us get a goal.”
Republic nearly took a quick lead in the third minute of the game when a shot bounced off the cross-post. Thirty minutes into the first half, Republic had another great opportunity to take the lead with a flurry of activity in the goal box. The ball squirted away from Central’s goalkeeper, who was on the ground, but Republic never got off a clean shot and the game remained scoreless.
Finally, in the 34th minute, Central broke through. A shot rebounded off the left post and Holland Hawkins booted it past Bella Drennan and into the net for a 1-0 Bulldog lead.
In the second half, Republic controlled possession for the first ten minutes, culminating in Jones’ equalizer. But from that point on, Central stepped up and increased its pressure on the Republic defense, resulting in the game-winning goal by Courtney Tucker just eight minutes later.
“I felt like we were the better team tonight, we just didn’t show it,” Hauck said. “I think that’s the most disappointing thing to me… We didn’t put our best out here tonight in the championship game.”
Hauck said despite the disappointing end, the Lady Tigers had a good season.
“I felt like we really had a complete team here, even with our injury losses. I felt like we were a good team and I think we showed it,” he said. “We played really well throughout the season after losing Madi (Mitchell) in the second game of the season, then Clara (Fronabarger) goes down. We were fighting adversity throughout the entire season and the girls did a great job with that. We still finished 16-9 on the year, which is a good record.”
The game was the last for nine seniors: Alexa Baker, Makenzie Chastain, Bella Drennan, Abigail Hicks, Anna Jones, Sierra Judy, Grace Lightfoot, Madi Mitchell, and Jessica Montenegro.
Farr Better Player of the Game
Just as she did throughout the season, senior Anna Jones made a big play just when the Lady Tigers needed it. Her goal five minutes into the second half tied the score 1-1. It was the only score of the night for the Lady Tigers in their final game of the year, and in Jones’ final game as a Lady Tiger, it made her our Farr Better Player of the Game.
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