ATHENS, Tenn. — McMinn County soccer coach David McDonald preaches the importance of his team crashing the goal once a shot is taken. Upon seeing the soggy conditions Tuesday night in the Lady Cherokees' District 5-AAA matchup against Ooltewah, he preached it even more.
And his players listened, particularly Arielle Hansford.
The freshman scored twice off rebounds and McMinn added a third goal off a deflection in a rain-soaked 3-0 win that made McMinn the second seed for the district tournament.
The Lady Cherokees (11-7, 5-1) will host Rhea County at 10 a.m. Saturday at the McMinn County Soccer Complex. Ooltewah (8-7, 3-3) will be the fourth seed and will host Bradley at 7 p.m. Saturday, while Cleveland (7-7-3, 4-2) takes third. Had the Lady Owls won Tuesday, Cleveland would have been second. Soddy-Daisy, ranked fifth in the state, is the top seed.
Gabby Poston's shot on goal deflected off an Ooltewah player and into the net in the first half.
Hansford scored both of her goals in the second half. Her first followed a shot by Taylor Beth Huff that slid through keeper Alyssa Kennedy's hands. Hansford scored her other goal when a cross deflected off a defender into her direction.
"I only have a few girls that actually follow shots," McDonald said, "but when they see the benefits of following a shot up, it becomes infectious. I really preached it tonight because conditions like this take possession out and change the way you might want to play."
Ooltewah coach Rick Adolph came out of Tuesday's contest with plenty to be pleased about. Kennedy finished with eight saves despite McMinn's barrage of shots from all angles, and the defense played the game plan drawn up by the coach.
"The conditions definitely affected a couple of their goals tonight, but with the amount of pressure they were applying, eventually that's going to happen," Adolph said. "The girls played hard. We didn't get much done offensively, but on defense we made them shoot from distance, and in that regard we did what we planned to do."