The Siegel Middle School girls soccer team continued its winning streak this week with a 4-0 win over Whitworth-Buchanan Middle School.
With six games under their belt, the Lady Cavaliers have enjoyed a successful run this season, and if all goes as planned Saturday against the Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Siegel could be headed right on track for a ninth season title.
On Thursday, the Lady Cavaliers traveled to Whitworth-Buchanan to take on the Yellow Jackets.
Due to inclement weather, the soccer referees decided to start the match 15 minutes earlier in an effort to prevent both teams from having to dodge heavy rain and lightning.
The game got off to a quick start with Siegel securing several shots on the net despite Yellow Jackets goalkeeper Ainsely Gordon making several saves. But, about halfway through the first half, the Lady Cavaliers got on the board with back-to-back goals by Julia Poarch, who successfully tucked her shots inside the far post.
After the second goal, Siegel head coach Culley Phillips decided to have several of his Lady Cavalier players change positions, with forwards becoming defenders and vice versa.
Siegel took it to 3-nil a few minutes later when Paige Johnson scored with a nice, soft touch shot.
A couple of minutes later, they scored their final goal of the match when Jenn Diliberti knocked in a rebound that bounced off the Whitworth-Buchanan goalkeeper to make the score 4-0.
At halftime, the lightning came, and instead of waiting for a 30-minute delay, both Phillips and Whitworth-Buchanan head coach Heather Curtis decided to call the match, with Siegel taking the win.
The win comes less than a week after the Lady Cavaliers faced off against rival Oakland Middle School during a Sept. 7 night game under the lights of the Ken Nolan Stadium at Siegel High School.
Both teams came into the match undefeated and were looking to make a statement late in the regular season. By the end, Siegel came out on top 3-1 in front of a huge audience that included several former players.
Usually, matches are played right after school, but Phillips and Oakland head coach Sam Gorden said they wanted to do something special for the players – something that fans could also enjoy given the tremendous rivalry the schools have in all sports, in all levels.
“We scheduled this game a long time ago,” Phillips said. “I asked (Gorden) if they wanted to make an event of it. They thought it was a good idea too. Playing under the lights gives the game a different feel, more intensity. That makes it fun, which is what it is all about … to let these players have some fun.”
Gorden agreed, saying the “Oakland-Siegel rivalry is always fun. It just adds to it, playing a little soccer on a Saturday night under the lights.”
Siegel forward Janie Hopper and goalkeeper Hayli Meeks said they liked being able to play under the special circumstances, especially given the strong support that both teams received from the community.
“It made it more intense, and we are very thankful for everybody that came out tonight,” Hopper said. “It felt really good to make them proud.”
Meeks, who proved to be a tough opponent for the talented Chargers, said the nighttime setting helped her put “everything on the field” without any distractions.
“That is where we were focused,” she said.
In the first half, both teams had several opportunities to score, but goalkeepers Meeks and Oakland’s Presley Hamby were up to the challenge.
However, Hopper managed to shoot a laser from 25 yards out over Hamby’s head and into the back of the net, giving Siegel a 1-nil lead at the half.
At the beginning of the second half, Oakland had a chance to tie the score with Meeks out of position, but Siegel defender Briana Mitchie stepped in and kept the ball out of the net.
A few minutes later, the Lady Chargers got on the board when Michelle Soriano scored off a rebound to tie it up at one. Oakland had all of the momentum and almost took the lead a few seconds later, but Meeks came up with another big save for the Lady Cavaliers.
Siegel took the lead when Poarch made a long run and put one past Hamby inside the 18-yard box.
The Lady Chargers had several chances to even the 2-1 score late in the match, including a near miss off a free kick over the cross bar, but Hopper put the game away for good with a shot just over the Oakland goal line for her second of the night.
They held on for the 3-1 win.
“It definitely was not an individual win,” Meeks said. “Without the assists, the goals would not have happened. If the defense was not back there on a few of my stops, they would have gone in.”
She added, “It was the whole team. We played for coach and to represent our school. We played for everybody else on the team, and I am really proud of them.”