Whitewater picked up a pair of key region wins on the road Tuesday night, the Lady Wildcats winning 6-2 and the boys winning 2-1.
“It’s a big win,” said Lady Wildcats coach Randy Hayes. “I knew they were going to be tough. They’re much better than they’ve been in the past. They played us really tight.”
The Lady Wildcats started the scoring quickly, Emily Petersen netting the game’s opening tally less than two minutes into the match. Petersen would make it a two-goal lead just past the midway point of the first half when Ally Smithwick intercepted a short goal kick and set her up.
Fayette would not go away, getting on the board when Melanie Mikoy’s long pass into the box was misplayed by the Wildcats.
Smithwick took her turn next, launching a shot from deep outside the box just over the keeper for a 3-1 lead.
Tariah Miller added her own long goal, racing up the field and slicing her shot into the corner of the goal from outside the right side of the box.
Whitewater found their mark once more in the first half, Carson Lamberth redirecting a rebound to give her team a 4-2 halftime lead.
The Cats locked in after halftime, especially on defense where they were able to limit some of the long runs they gave up early.
“We had a little bit better communication between the backs and the goalie,” said Hayes. “We had a bit of miscommunication there at the beginning, and it cost us, but that’s how we progress as we get a little better each game.”
Smithwick lofted a long, beautiful pass to Petersen in stride to beat the keeper for a three-goal lead. Petersen would add one more with three minutes left in the game to seal up the 6-2 win.
Emily Petersen finished the match with 4 goals. Ally Smithwick and Carson Lamberth each notched 1 goal. Smithwick also added a pair of assists.
Keeper Emma Fulton notched 6 saves, returning after breaking her nose and missing much of the first half.
The win runs Whitewater’s mark to 6-4 overall, impressive given the number of injuries the team has had to deal with this season.
“We still have a few people out,” said Hayes. “It’s been a rough season, but we’re trying to get everyone healthy so we can make a region run.”
The boys battle between Whitewater and Fayette County was one of the most thrilling of the season so far.
“It was a hard fought game between two region and city rivals,” said Whitewater coach John Bernard. “We were happy to come out with a region win, and we are looking forward to our next region game.”
The first half was filled with near misses and stellar saves as both squads were on the attack.
Zach Birkhead and Hagen Clements each had good looks in the early moments, but were turned away.
Fayette keeper Matt Sherry stood tall with several saves on point blank shots, and defender Renato Rivera stuck to Birkhead like glue on one opportunity late in the half.
The scoreless tie did not last far past the break. Less than two minutes into the second half, Devin Dickinson broke through off an assist from Margarito Cruz. Around the midway point of the half, Hagen Clements made the Tigers pay on a penalty kick for a 2-0 lead.
After a stellar night in goal, Sherry scored the Tigers’ lone goal on a PK in the game’s final minute.
The 2-1 win runs Whitewater’s record to 10-1 overall.
While they took the losses, the Tigers soccer program, under the coaching of Jennifer Ross and Jeffery Belwood, showed yet again they are on the rise and already a force to be reckoned with. The Lady Tigers played with tenacity and flashed exciting potential with players like freshman Tariah Miller on the attack. The Tiger boys faced off against the nationally-ranked Wildcats and battled them all night shot for shot.
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