Story by Mark Carpenter –
Photo by Jamie Puckett –
Monday, Oct. 17 turned out to be a historic day for the West Union girls soccer program, one that the members of this year’s squad will not soon forget. Winning three games in a season may not be impressive to some, but the 2016 Lady Dragons have set a record for wins in a season and even better, on Monday they did something no other team before them had done-win a sectional tournament game.
West Union was a number eight seed on the bracket and was matched up to host number nine seed Northwest, a team whose only win this season came in a 6-1 triumph over the Lady Dragons, but this time was going to be quite the opposite.
“My pregame talk with the girls on Monday was a little different,” said West Union head coach Kevin Hunter. “We reflected on our season and the memories we had made, the obstacles we were faced with, and the challenges we overcame. One of the girls said that she just didn’t want the season to end and I told them to just embrace the moment and reflect back on all they had done. I explained to them that they were tied for the best record in school history and a win here would put them in the record books.”
As they have been in every game, the Lady Dragons were outnumbered roster-wise, but that obstacle was one they were used to. “We were able to shut down their offensive threats and play from the heart the entire game,” said Hunter. “Every girl contributed and gave it her all, the most any coach could ask for. At times I got so lost in the game that I didn’t even look at the scoreboard.”
If Hunter had glanced at the scoreboard in the first half, he would have seen his team take a 1-0 lead on a goal by sophomore Emilee Davis, which turned out to be all the offense the Lady Dragons needed.
“The girls went crazy after they drew first blood,” said Hunter. “At halftime the girls were celebrating as if they had won the game and I had to remind them that there was 40 minutes left and they could celebrate after the final whistle.”
Holding the precarious one-goal lead, the Lady Dragons played a solid second half, according to Coach Hunter, winning nearly all of the 50/50 balls and keeping the Lady Mohawks off the scoreboard.
“When I looked at the clock and saw two minutes left, everything seemed to slow down and I am yelling at the girls to relax but it was like they never heard me,” added Hunter. “They kept playing like they were the ones losing and then the whistle blew and the win set in. The next 20 minutes were hugs and tears, laughter and joy, followed by prayers and a lot of pictures.”
The 1-0 win for the Lady Dragons was one for the record books and earned them a spot in a sectional title game, no small task for the usually outnumbered squad, but on one Monday night in October, a group of hustling young ladies made memories that they won’t soon forget.